Diverse menu appeals to residents’ taste buds

Diverse menu appeals to residents’ taste buds

Fresh food options, a new chef and updated recipes have improved the dining experience at Good Samaritan Society – Kissimmee Village in Kissimmee, Florida.

Food Service Director Sal Traina’s focus has been on improving quality, having a more diverse menu and making the presentation more appealing.

Brazilian chicken over Spanish rice with zucchini
Entrée: Brazilian chicken over Spanish rice with zucchini

“For me, it’s all about paying attention to detail,” says Sal. “My first thing was to switch from frozen to fresh food.”

Sal continually asks for feedback so he and his team of 35 can make the dining experience positive for residents. Favorite foods are often added to the special of the day rotation.

Stephanie Swearingen, senior living sales and marketing director, appreciates the variety of the special of the day. Some of the specials have included stromboli, tamale pie, salmon, shrimp and teriyaki chicken.

“Residents have been super happy about the changes,” Stephanie says. “We’ve gotten some very positive feedback.”

Stephanie has noticed that the presentation of the food has become a priority. She often has lunch delivered to her office and recently had a chicken breast garnished with a lemon and greens to add a special touch.

Cherry angel cake
Dessert: Cherry angel cake

During the pandemic, Sal and his team have delivered meals to residents. Sal says the first week was challenging, but the team adapted and the process is going well. They continue to deliver to residents in the health care center and assisted living building.

“We have a great team. All my credit goes to them,” says Sal. “I tell them, ‘This is because of you. You’re the frontline people. I only steer the boat.’”

Communal dining is now open at Heritage Creekside and Sal and his team have implemented many safety precautions.

Dining is by reservation only. Tables are six feet apart with only two chairs per table. Staff and diners use hand sanitizer and wear masks and each diner has his or her temperature taken before they sit down. Table and chairs are continually disinfected and arrows point the way in and out.

The food is important, but safety is our key, especially now,” – Sal Traina.

He adds that despite all the precautions, residents are happy to be able to get out and enjoy a dining experience.

As they dine, they’ll notice that Sal and his team are working hard to provide them with a great experience.

“It’s about family,” says Sal. “If you treat them like family, you’ll be successful. If there is a problem, they’ll feel comfortable talking to you about it.”

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