The heart of St. Luke’s Home is a large, centrally located room where people gather to eat, sing around the piano, watch a movie on the big-screen television or just share a quiet conversation. Decorations in the room change regularly depending on the holiday, and all Elder birthdays are celebrated there with cake and Happy Birthday sung by all.
In late 2016, Culinary Manager Melissa Hernandez recommended implementing choice in food options and eating times for St. Luke’s Elders. She surveyed Elders and their response was positive. “St. Luke’s is their home, and I want to make their dining experience the best,” she said.
The eating routine had been in place for years with everyone eating identically plated food at the same time each day: 7:30 AM, Noon, 5 PM. Melissa also noted that feeding everyone made for harried servers who often had not time to say “good morning” or “welcome to dinner.”
And no one ever asked what Melissa calls, “the best and most important” question: “What would you like today?”
Melissa worked with St. Luke’s CEO L’Don Sawyer who made sure that the kitchen staff had the training and equipment necessary to implement the following:
- Expanded dining times with breakfast available anytime between 7-9 AM; lunch 11-1 and dinner 4-6;
- Food choices offered at every meal including “eggs your way;” heartier lunch options, lighter choices at dinner; fresh fruit cups, peanut butter and jelly, and omelets with a wide range of fillings
- All meals cooked to order;
- Greetings offered at each meal by a service worker, talking directly to Elders, getting to know them and how they like their food prepared.
“That is the best way for all of us to connect with the people we are feeding.” Melissa said, “We get to know them, the way they like their eggs cooked. It all becomes much more personal, not like an assembly line.”