Waste Nothing Approach Helps Cura Chefs Cut Waste; Inspires Creative Recipes!

 

Each day in the United States approximately one pound of food per person is wasted. This equates to 103 million tons (81.4 billion pounds) of food waste generated in America in 2017, or between 30-40 percent of the food supply, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Food waste is a global challenge and as an organization that is all about food, we believe it is our responsibility to work towards positive change.

So, what can food service management companies like Elior North America and its member brands like Cura do to help?

Elior North America adopted a ‘Waste Nothing’ approach to help our kitchens become aware of the food waste they produce and then work to reduce, rescue, and redirect it from the landfill.

We start in our kitchens where pre-consumer waste including overproduction, trim waste, expiration, and dropped items, to name a few, can be reduced.  This also applies to our dining areas, where operators can better manage waste on the salad bars, steam wells, self-serve deli stations, and misordered products.   Post-consumer food waste can also be reduced through smaller portions, going trayless and promoting awareness programs to our residents and guests.

‘Waste Nothing’ tools are also offered to our teams to help them get started.  First, our locations register on the ‘Waste Nothing’ site.  This helps operators to identify action plans and optimize the success rate of the location’s waste tracking. Operators can purchase waste bins designated to dispose of all food production waste.  At the end of each day, before teams dispose of their food waste, the amounts are measured in quarts. Food waste is logged each business day and kept at the dining station in a safe place in order to use the following day. It’s that easy!

As hard as we may try to reduce and rescue, there will be some food waste our kitchens just can’t avoid. Here’s what our teams are doing to save waste from our landfills:

COMPOSTING:  To further enhance sustainable efforts, vegetable waste and wood material (cardboard, leaves and woodchips) are composted on-site and returned back to the gardens for natural fertilization. If onsite composting is not an option, we encourage our teams to contribute to local composting efforts.

FEED HUNGRY PEOPLE: Food banks take non-perishable foods, but some prepared and perishable foods are donated in your community.   Cura chefs take it one step further by donating their time and resources to community gardens whose clients are food insecure.

OUTSOURCE TO RECYCLE.   Cura may work with disposal services that, for example, recycle fryer grease in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

FEEDING ANIMALS:  With proper handling, food scraps may also be eligible for donation to feed animals.

A clever “Rescue Recipe” contest was also launched to get our teams excited about ‘Waste Nothing’.  This friendly competition not only inspires Cura’s chefs to cut waste, but it also promotes creativity, transforming perfectly good ingredients into new and delicious recipes that are added to our menus!

Read more about Cura’s Chefs in FoodService Director Magazine here!

 

Cura’s Enhanced Safety Practices

 

Cura Celebrates National Safety Month

As Cura teams begin to reopen hospital and senior living cafes and dining rooms, our operators continue to keep our residents, patients, and guests safe!

During June’s National Safety Month, Cura, a senior living and acute care dining specialist, was one of the first food service contractors to step up with a fully developed COVID-19 playbook and video training series to educate all staff.  According to Cura’s Executive Safety Sponsor Michelle Doleniak (MA, RD, LDN), many of the changes we have made to our foodservice operations will continue, and be adopted as the new “normal.”

For example, seating arrangements in the dining areas changed in conjunction with the social distancing guidelines.  “Although we have lifted restrictions on the number of guests that can sit in the dining areas, other safety steps continue to be followed including the installation of plexiglass barriers at cash register stations, the removal of salad bars, and eliminating self-service stations,” she says.

Cura repurposed these “help yourself” stations by pre-portioning and pre-packaging to-go containers with salad leaf base, smaller ramekins of toppings, from diced grilled chicken to fresh veggies and beans. These areas are frequently wiped down. So, guests are making their own salad, just in a slightly different way.  “It still has the appearance of the salad bar, but it’s safer,” Ms. Doleniak says.

In other Cura-managed cafes, made-to-order salad bars are staffed with servers who stand behind a salad bar line (and plexiglass barriers) with silver bowls, ready to mix individual salads, all of which are visible—at a distance—to the customer.  Chefs have even developed planograms for staff, so if a customer selects a composed salad, all the components are easily tossed together in the right portions. This allows for a level of customization—and conversation—that corresponds with the comfort level and safety of each customer.

The expansion of grab-and-go programs, like Cura’s Heat at Home, continues to be a popular alternative for those who prefer to dine in the comfort and safety of their homes. Packages are labeled with reheating and food storage instructions to keep consumers safe.

Cura also alerts consumers to what food should be refrigerated or kept frozen; keeps food temperature logs; and has proper hot and cold holding equipment to transport food and keep at the appropriate temperature out of the temperature danger zone.

In addition to delivering a safe dining services experience, Ms. Doleniak talks us through Cura’s rigorous cleaning and sanitation protocol that meet regulatory guidelines and prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses.  “We partner with Ecolab for approved cleaning processes by location.  We also have a strategy for more frequent cleaning, and ensure we are using the appropriate and “safe” cleaning chemicals that meet the CDC guidelines.”

At press time, Cura is celebrating many of its successful re-openings safely!   Enjoy a 15-month journey from a Cura-managed community.  The team’s spirit was never diminished during COVID.  In fact, they came together and rallied when their residents needed them most!

After 15 long months, residents at Presbyterian SeniorCare’s Longwood at Oakmont in Verona, PA, were thrilled to finally be able to dine “in person”.

According to Mary Kay Grippa, general manager of dining, the pandemic was challenging for the staff who prepared and delivered 100 boxed lunches and 300 dinners daily to five neighborhoods spreading across the 60-acre campus.  “We were fortunate to employ many college students who were able to work because they were learning remotely.”  Of the 134 hourly staff members, 65% are college students who are majoring in nursing and healthcare from schools like Pitt, Duquesne, Penn State, and Clarion.  Ms. Grippa even employs a nursing home administration major who enjoys working with residents in the memory support neighborhood.

Reopening dining also presented its obstacles. The goal was to eliminate high-touch areas, such as the salad bar and beverage station.  The scatter system food configuration lends to further eliminate the need to touch anything.  Residents can visit the station of their choice and verbally make their selection to the dining server.

During the reopening celebration, residents could visit all stations that offered fresh-dough Margarita pizza, made from scratch andouille and corn chowder soups, and design their own deli.

Residents also enjoyed a summer salmon and berry salad with a lemon vinaigrette.  The most popular was the action station where Executive Chef Ryle David prepared a Mediterranean chicken and pasta, and grilled favorites to order!

The Perked Coffee bar and barista is also open energizing residents with freshly brewed coffee, espresso, cappuccino, chai, lattes, smoothies, and milkshakes. 

Though residents were excited to come in the dining room, they were especially happy to see and visit with our student workers who are applying what they learn in school,” she says.

Dining team members were equally excited to serve their residents in person.  “Just talking to residents face to face was awesome.  I also had the pleasure of introducing myself to new residents, who never experienced anything but a food delivery due to the pandemic.  I walked them through the dining room and our concepts.  Speaking with residents and making a connection with people – good or bad – I want to hear from them.   It’s how we learn to enhance services to residents.  This is why I got into this business,” Ms. Grippa says.

 

Nanticoke Promos Increase Sales by 20%

No need for a tropical vacation, just visit the café at TidalHealth’s Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford, Delaware for island fun where the team recently treated staff with a luau party to celebrate Memorial Weekend!  The team holds these extravagantly planned and executed themed events which helps to increase sales by 20% on “payday” Thursday before any holiday,  enticing those to splurge on delicious eats at the cafe!

According to Tanyell Moore, general manager of dining, the island theme was also the first special event in celebration of the cafe’s reopening!  “We wanted to go all out, so the team came up with creative ideas like a tiki bar, a corn hole toss to win a free cup of coffee, and a tropical-inspired menu!”  Customers enjoyed crab cakes with homemade coleslaw at the Bravo Station, grilled corn dogs, funnel cake fries, boardwalk fries, hand-breaded coconut chicken tenders with Pina Collada sauce, homemade pineapple upsidedown cake, and bread pudding!

“The promotion was successful as staff definitely want to come in, sit and spend more time in the café.  They also participated in the games, enjoyed the decor designed by staff,  and island music,” says Ms. Moore.

Past events celebrated Asian foods where customers enjoyed a hibachi bar with squash, chicken, beef, and fresh veggies.  The hot line served potstickers and spring rolls.

For the July 4th holiday, dining will host a Hollywood theme where the cafe will be transformed into a 50’s drive-in theatre.  Shakes, burgers, popcorn baskets, and signage from the movie Grease will take guests back to sock hops, retro diner decor, and food!

“The goal is to consistently offer something new and unique for the customers to keep them engaged and excited about dining!” she says.  The dining team also accommodates third-shift employees during special events.  “We package meals to go for them so they feel like they’re a part of the festivities.”

Longwood Reopens after 15 Months; Residents Excited to Dine in Person

“Pictured: Welcoming residents back are Leah Ford, Syracuse University student and Carly Glover, University of Pittsburgh student.”

After 15 long months, residents at Presbyterian SeniorCare’s Longwood at Oakmont in Verona, PA, were thrilled to finally be able to dine “in person”.

According to Mary Kay Grippa, general manager of dining, the pandemic was challenging for the staff who prepared and delivered 100 boxed lunches and 300 dinners daily to five neighborhoods spreading across the 60-acre campus.  “We were fortunate to employ many college students who were able to work because they were learning remotely.”  Of the 134 hourly staff members, 65% are college students who are majoring in nursing and healthcare from schools like Pitt, Duquesne, Penn State, and Clarion.  Ms. Grippa even employs a nursing home administration major who enjoys working with residents in the memory support neighborhood.

Reopening dining also presented its obstacles. The goal was to eliminate high-touch areas, such as the salad bar and beverage station.  The scatter system food configuration lends to further eliminate the need to touch anything.  Residents are able to visit the station of their choice and verbally make their selection to the dining server.

During the reopening celebration, residents could visit all stations that offered fresh-dough Margarita pizza, made from scratch andouille and corn chowder soups, and design your own deli.

Residents also enjoyed a summer salmon and berry salad with a lemon vinaigrette.  The most popular was the action station where Executive Chef Ryle David prepared a Mediterranean chicken and pasta, and grilled favorites to order!

The Perked Coffee bar and barista is also open energizing residents with freshly brewed coffee, espresso, cappuccino, chai, lattes, smoothies, and milkshakes.  Guests and residents can also enjoy breakfast sandwiches, bagels, English muffins, pastries, fruit, yogurt, and parfaits.

Though residents were excited to come in the dining room, they were especially happy to see and visit with our student workers who are applying what they learn in school,” she says.

Dining team members were equally excited to serve their residents in person.  “Just talking to residents face to face was awesome.  I also had the pleasure of introducing myself to new residents, who never experienced anything but a food delivery due to the pandemic.  I walked them through the dining room and our concepts.  Speaking with residents and making a connection with people – good or bad – I want to hear from them.   It’s how we learn to enhance services to residents.  This is why I got into this business,” Ms. Grippa says.

 

Cura at AHN Celebrate During Inaugural Summit

Time to Celebrate…!

To celebrate their success in transitioning dining services to Cura, food service directors and managers from Allegheny Health Network (AHN) came together during the first company-sponsored “AHN Summit”.  Each hospital dining team received a certificate of excellence, and other awards to mark “Where it All Began…” held at Allegheny General Hospital (Pittsburgh) in May!

Cura began a seamless transition process of dining services earlier this year, where management teams worked collaboratively to reopen multiple dining venues in Pennsylvania over the course of several months to ensure the highest food quality, service, and care to patients, staff, and guests.

During the one-day summit, AHN teams were excited to learn from Cura leaders including Trish Spellman, Vice President of Operations; Eric Goldberg, Corporate Executive Chef; Kristen Azzarello, Vice President AHN; Kristen Hampton; District Manager AHN; Ryan Sonson, Director of Culinary; and Michaelle Buskey, Director of Retail and Catering AHN, on ways they can enhance the patient and guest experience, and just as important, working together to deliver our culinary gold and retail standards each and every day!

Food partners, including US Foods, educated the team on their inventory system and new online ordering tools; while Paragon Foods introduced their pre-cut produce program and buying local.   Exciting marketing programs, Seasonal Plate, safety updates, and other key company resources were also presented.

Complimentary breakfast and lunch were provided by food vendor partners, who even brought samples of new product lines, as well as goodie bags, for attendees to try!

For those managers who could not attend, the summit was streamed so they could participate from their locations virtually.

Congratulations to our teams on the following awards:

Forbes:

“Biggest Come Back”-  The come back is always stronger than the setback!

  • We will survive fight song

Canonsburg:

“Teamwork Makes the Dream Work”

  • Always willing to help each other.
  • A big Team approach to getting things done (ie. Putting away food orders)

West Penn:

“Hospitality with Humility”

  • Friendly, welcoming, pleasant approach to the transition.

 Grove City:

“Unity with Community”

  • Spirit of friendship and community feel amongst the group.
  • Comfortable around each other and supportive.
  • The 1st “Cura family meal”

Allegheny General Hospital:

“The Most Radical Retail Transformation”

  • Most amazing retail refresh at the highest revenue-generating location.

Saint Vincent Hospital:

“Extraordinary Team Spirit”

  • Sunshine and rainbows
  • Cheerleader approach to successful outcomes
  • Don’t forget to visit the chapel and talk with Father Dennis!
  • Employee chant after each huddle

 

Jefferson:

“Where it all began”…without all of you, we wouldn’t be here today.

 

Allegheny Valley:

“Happiness is Homemade”…Best Baked Goods in town!

  • They haven’t met a problem that their baking couldn’t fix!
  • Stressed is desserts spelled backward

 

 

BeWell Kitchens at Presbyterian Senior Living Communities Engage Residents

 

BeWell Kitchens are popping up at all Presbyterian Senior Living Communities (PSL). Introduced at Glen Meadows Retirement Community in Glen Arbor, Maryland, Cura chefs and dietitians present this interactive demonstration and teaching kitchen featuring the monthly BeWell recipe in front of a kitchen backdrop!  This fun culinary presentation invites residents to participate, which promotes lively discussions about ingredients, nutrition info, and personal life stories!

During the BeWell Kitchen, residents are invited to gather and mix their ingredients, which are pre-chopped and pre-portioned.  According to Jeffry Deibler, district manager, the beauty of the BeWell Kitchen is that it encourages residents to be a part of meal preparation.  “It’s more than just a cooking class, residents now understand and connect the ingredients that are used to prepare the recipe featured on their menu.”

Seniors with dementia also receive therapeutic benefits as culinary activities may trigger happy memories and the comforts of home!  In fact, cooking activates the senses.  When baking a cake, for example, seniors can be brought into the moment as they put their hands through the cool, soft dough.  Or, a happy memory may be recalled when preparing and sharing a meal with their loved ones!

Before introduced during a BeWell Kitchen, a power grain with edamame soybeans and crispy tofu was not a popular selection with residents.  Residents are now more inclined to order and enjoy this energy-boosting food!

At another PSL community, residents at St Andrews Village in Indiana, PA, enjoyed an exceptional performance of the BeWell Kitchen! “From the setup to the execution, everything was on point.  One ‘foodie’ resident commented that she really enjoyed the fact that she could taste and smell the ingredients as she helped to prepare the meal,” said Deibler.

Activities like the BeWell Kitchen inspire residents to try new foods while making their health and wellness delicious, easy and fun!

 

Cura Recognizes Healthcare Workers, Older Americans in May

May is a busy month…Mother’s Day, Memorial Weekend, and the beginning of summer break.  May is also a time when Cura observes Older Americans Month, National Nursing Home, Nurses, Doctors, and Hospitals Weeks!

To help honor this year’s Older American’s Month theme, “Communities of Strength”, Cura at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network at Shenango on the Green in New Wilmington, PA, residents were treated to a delicious brunch with delicious quiche Lorraine, sausage, bacon, fried potatoes, waffles & chicken.   For dessert, who could resist cheese blitz with strawberry topping, donuts, danish, fresh fruit & even yogurt shots!

To help recognize our hospital staff, the team at John C Stennis Memorial Hospital in De Kalb, Mississippi (part of Rush Health Systems) celebrated hospital week with Wild Wild West special events, while Executive Chef Terry Geracia moved his celebration outside so hospital staff could enjoy picnic-style favorites from the grill at Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, PA!

In celebration of National Nursing Home Week, Cura and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati team members in Ohio were honored with t-shirts that featured the phrase “Hazard yet forward” on the back, a quote from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the Sisters community.  A campus-wide grilling event was enjoyed by the Sisters and all employees. And for dessert…our Baker, Josh made 20 0+ cupcakes, a cupcake cake, and 300 scooped portions of local Cincinnati favorite, Graeter’s Ice Cream!

Happy National Nurses Week from the Lutheran Community at Telford in PA, where our full-time baker Roxanne prepared these celebration cakes to honor our staff!

Cura Celebrates National Doctors Day at Marion General Hospital in Marion, Indiana…  

Jennifer Grubb and her team catered an amazing lunch to celebrate while honoring our physicians for their hard work and dedication throughout the pandemic!  Marion’s menu consisted of chicken velvet soup, shrimp scampi skewers, prime rib, ratatouille, spring vegetable bundles, mini key lime pie and hummingbird cake! 

 

Cura adds Cafe Kara to St. Clair’s New Dunlap Family Outpatient Center

Congratulations to Cura’s team at St. Clair Health in Pittsburgh honored to prepare an outstanding catered event for the grand opening celebration of the Dunlap Family Outpatient Center! This new 280,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility offers comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic outpatient services, including the Cafe Kara!  Sales are topping $1,200 per day since opening on May 13th … and the building is not fully operational!

Cafe Kara is open Monday through Friday for breakfast and lunch services to dine in or to go!   Guests will enjoy everything from made-to-order specialty breakfast sandwiches to smoothies prepared with raw fruits.  Local favorites such as freshly brewed coffee from Pittsburgh’s Coffee Tree Roasters will complement an assortment of bagels, scones, and other delicious pastries provided by Potomac Bakery and our in-house baker Jackie!

Guest enjoy always available items at the fresh design-your-own salad bar, a deli station featuring Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, hot sandwiches on flatbreads, and tempting paninis such as mozzarella and eggplant.  According to Emily Guidash, general manager, weekly specials are rotated including hot roasted salmon salad, roasted chicken and brie panini, chicken fajita salad, smoked chicken salad, roasted red pepper hummus flatbread, shrimp and spinach flatbread, asparagus and leek strata and applewood smoked bacon croissant.

Chef’s Palate and BeWell offerings will also be available to give guests additional options!

Beautiful digital signage informs guests of the weekly menu, daily specials, hours of operation, special brands and BeWell trivia!

In addition to Cafe Kara, Cura manages St. Clair’s main full-service employee cafe and Cafe 4, a retail venue.

Kudos to the team on a job well done:

  • Executive Chef, Ryan Lucci
  • Executive Sous, Joel Morgan
  • Retail Manager, Colleen Rivera
  • Ron McIntyre, Supervisor
  • Marcy Lukitsch, Cook
  • Vesna Martinovic, Retail Associate
  • DI Hers Glotfelty, Retail Associate
  • Hannah Chaplin, Retail Associate

Celebrating Older Americans Month with Cura’s Fresh at Home!

Cura, a member of the Elior North America family of companies,  is proud to recognize Older Americans Month celebrated during the month of May!

As part of the celebration, Cura has launched Fresh at Home meal kits offered to all communities where Cura manages food service. For a cost of only $10- $12, the meal kit comes complete with fresh ingredients that are pre-packaged, along with step-by-step recipe instructions so residents can easily use the ingredients to prepare a delicious meal in their home in less than 30 minutes.

Communities such as Lutheran SeniorLife at Passavant in Zelienople, PA, recently partnered with Cura to help market their independent living spaces to prospective residents leveraging dining and Fresh at Home!  According to Kasandra Leighland, director of marketing and communications for Passavant, one of the things residents are particularly interested in prior to moving into a community like ours, is the food.  Cura does a great job in delivering and providing special touches.  “We want to build upon that and feature the expertise of our chefs and what Cura has to offer, including Fresh at Home,” Ms. Leighland says. 

To achieve their goal, Passavant’s audio and visual department produced a cooking show in a residential living space featuring Cura’s Executive Chef Gregory Fried demonstrating the preparation of apricot chicken with roasted potatoes and green beans.  “It gives prospective residents an idea of cooking the Fresh at Home meal kit in their new kitchen at Passavant,” says Ms. Leighland. 

Prospective residents were even invited to Passavant while Cura was working on deploying Fresh at Home which includes chicken, fish, pasta, pork, and vegetarian recipe options.  “They loved the concept, the simplicity, and the cost.  In fact, they wanted to know how they could have Fresh at Home delivered to their home prior to moving in!” says Ms. Leighland.  The DVD cooking video was aired throughout campus for all to enjoy!

Fresh at Home was also added to the dining’s extensive grocery program, which has been extremely popular during the pandemic. Residents can add the meal kit to their weekly grocery list, along with milk, bread, fruit, eggs, and other proteins.  Order forms are available throughout campus, with several drop-off locations, as well as new forms in their grocery delivery.   “Dining has gone out of their way, especially during the pandemic, to accommodate residents.  Current and prospective residents are seeing the value, and that the options here are unlimited,” says Ms. Leighland. 

Plans are already underway for future Fresh at Home cooking shows and live demonstrations in the community’s bistro.  Executive Chef Gregory loves cooking for his residents, but also believes that residents should have a sense of independence.  “It’s great for their self-esteem to cook for themselves.  Fresh at Home makes it easy for them to do so,” he says.

In the meantime, Passavant is busy, providing prospective residents with the cooking show DVD along with a Fresh at Home package – giving them a taste of the possibilities of life at Passavant!

First Look: St. Clair Health’s Dunlap Family Outpatient Center

SOURCE:  “First Look:  St. Clair Health’s Dunlap Family Outpatient Center” Pittsburgh Business Times, May 8, 2021

St. Clair Health on May 6 unveiled the centerpiece of the largest expansion in its nearly 70-year history — the $125 million, state-of-the-art Dunlap Family Outpatient Center.  View the center here, including Cura’s Cafe Kara!