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Ask the Experts: What is the Food Like in Senior Living?

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There’s no doubt that food plays an essential role in our lives. Not only is food a source of nutrition and energy, but it’s also a major part of daily social gatherings, special events, and holiday celebrations. Everyone has his or her favorite dish, along with fond memories of sharing meals with family and friends.

Modern senior living communities like Bethany Village know the value of offering healthy, delicious meals in a vibrant, social setting. Many offer chef-prepared gourmet meals inspired by the latest culinary trends and feature several different dining venues designed to foster community, connection, and new friendships among residents.

We recently spoke with Laurie Wortham, Director of Dining Services, and Cathy Bourquin, Registered Dietitian, who gave us a closer look at the dining experience at Bethany Village.

How has the approach to dining in senior living – especially at Bethany Village – evolved to meet the needs of today’s seniors?

Laurie: Some people mistakenly believe that the food in senior living is bland or boring, but this couldn’t be further from the truth at Bethany Village. Here, dining is a first-rate experience. We have a Culinary Institute of America trained chef, Chef Eric Williams, who is always coming up with creative and delicious selections that incorporate fresh, seasonal ingredients. From healthier options like grilled chicken, salmon, and fresh vegetables to comfort foods like mashed potatoes, chicken noodle soup, and meatloaf, there’s something for everyone to choose from.

Cathy: As a dietitian, I work to make sure that the meals we offer not only meet residents’ expectations for quality and taste but their nutritional requirements as well. We create meal plans that are well-balanced, nutritious, and most importantly, tasty. For residents who have health concerns and need to maintain a certain diet, such as gluten-free, low-sodium, high fiber, or a reduced fat diet, we offer alternatives that meet their needs without compromising flavor.

How you do take residents’ input into consideration when planning menus?

Laurie: We have meetings every month with residents in different areas of the community (Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing) to listen to their feedback and suggestions. We want to know what they like and what they don’t like so we can adjust what we’re serving. We take into account any comments they have on the menu, as well as the preparation and presentation of the food served. Overall, we’ve found that residents are very satisfied with the menu and the choices we offer.

Cathy: When new residents move in, we ask about the food and dishes that they like. We try to go the extra mile to provide foods that residents enjoy and continuously improve what we’re serving them.

What makes the dining experience different at Bethany Village?

Laurie: At Bethany Village, dining is a very social aspect of life, and it’s something that our residents look forward to every day. We have several different dining venues for our residents to enjoy, including formal dining rooms and others that are more like restaurants or cafés. We have music playing in the background, and residents can either help themselves or be served by staff if they prefer. The environment is warm and welcoming, which helps residents connect with others and make friends around the table.

Cathy: The majority of our residents like going to the dining areas to interact with staff and other residents. However, we also provide as much flexibility as possible. Residents have the option to take their meals to go and eat privately to their room or apartment.

Q: How is food a part of community gatherings or celebrations at Bethany Village?

Laurie: There are tons of food-oriented activities happening at Bethany Village every day. Whether it’s an ice cream social, a happy hour, or a special holiday gathering, we always celebrate with food! We also opened a snack bar area for residents and their visitors, located in our new Crescent Crossing assisted living community. We offer fun snacks and treats for sale like popcorn, soft pretzels, ice cream, coffee and pastries that people can grab on the go, or take into the nearby movie theater at Crescent Crossing. It’s been a big hit!

Cathy: Bethany Village also has a relaxing café-style dining venue on campus called The Bistro, which is open to staff, residents, and visitors. Chef Eric features all kinds of dishes, including soups and made-to-order sandwiches. The Bistro a great option for residents to enjoy when family comes to visit.

Want to learn more about the dining experience at Bethany Village? Schedule a visit and stay for a meal in our community. We would be delighted to have you and your loved one join us for lunch or dinner.

Written by Bethany Lutheran Village

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