Memorable Celebrations

Cura’s teams are helping to create memorable celebrations and special themed meals for residents and their families!

Happy 65th Wedding Anniversary to a very special couple who reside at the Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina at The Village at Summerville.  They enjoyed our menu of she crab soup, tossed salad with house-made honey mustard dressing, steak and potatoes for the entree and a wonderful lemon cake with raspberry filling made by our resident Pastry Chef William.


A note from their daughter…
Mom and dad thoroughly enjoyed their lunch and everyone’s part in making their day special. Dad couldn’t stop talking not only about how delicious the steak was, but also how it was cooked to perfection! He also commented on how much he enjoyed eating on china with silver! Mom was delighted that so many staff members stopped by to speak to them. She was glad to see people, even if from a distance!

The cake was beautiful! William did a spectacular job on it! I am going to divide it up and share with the family.
Thank you so much in being a part of mom and dad’s special day and being willing to do something a bit different!
Everything was perfect!


The Cura team also helped to pull off a surprise 65th wedding anniversary party for a Newhaven Court couple at Lutheran Seniorlife at the Passavant Community. With a no visitation policy still in place, the Cura team set up a special romantic table for two in the private dining room and the family table on our porch outside. The family brought in a few props and some pictures for them to enjoy! We served both the happy couple and the family their dinner and dessert so they could celebrate this joyous occasion together!


Our third 65th anniversary was celebrated at The Florence Presbyterian Community in South Carolina.  The Cura team helped Mr. Kelham create a very special celebration! What a day to remember!

It’s Viva Italiano at Providence Point in Pittsburgh, PA. This wonderful themed meal for our residents was prepared by our outstanding Executive Chef Caleb Hicks and Sous Chef Malana Falconer who prepared an Italian stuffed pork tenderloin with wild rice mushroom stuffing topped with an Alfredo chardonnay sauce; or prosciutto wrapped shrimp with fresh mozzarella balls and basil pesto; or Grilled swordfish with beurre blanc sauce. All served with salad, sides and a cannoli – of course! This is fine dining prepared by talented chefs!

Providence Point also enjoyed an authentic luau themed feast! Delicious salmon salad, Laulah pulled pork, pipkaula (marinated flat iron steak), sesame seared tuna steak with balsamic lime reduction, and more!  The dining team also donned Hawaiian attire!


Sherwood Oaks in Cranberry Township, PA, also goes Hawaiian!  Residents enjoyed this creative themed event in the main dining room – 6 feet apart – while enjoying chilled mango soup, coconut lime tilapia, jerk chicken, steamed rice and fresh veggies!  Who couldn’t resist red raspberry pie and chocolate lava cake for dessert!


Farm to Plate

Many of Cura’s operations are supporting local farms and restaurants through COVID-19.  Allegheny Health Network’s Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Hills, PA, recently established a local partnership with Triple B Farms based out of Monongahela, PA.  Celebrating 35 years of family, food and fun, Triple B Farms grows fruits and vegetables, and in addition, offers freshly baked goods, homemade fudge and gift baskets.  According to Matt Sherwin, general manager of dining services at Jefferson Hospital, “our goal was to keep it simple and offer, when in season, strawberries, zucchini and asparagus.  For example, we used the strawberries in the angel food cake as it’s very low in fat and a good dessert choice.”

The zucchini was sautéed to complement chicken Marsala featured as a BeWell item in the J Café, while fresh asparagus was offered as an a la carte food option or to enjoy as a side with grilled rosemary chicken and roasted redskin potatoes from the Spoon and Fork retail station!

Triple B Farms even offers homemade strawberry doughnuts, a hit for breakfast customers at JeffersonTruly the perfect take-out combo with a cup of “joe!”   Patients are also enjoying flavorful farm to fork meals prepared by our culinary team at Jefferson Hospital.  A house- made chicken stir fry was prepared with farm fresh onions, and red and green peppers grown and harvested at Triple B Farms.

In other farm to plate news, the dining team at Presbyterian Senior Living at Westminster Woods in Huntingdon, PA, treat their independent living residents to an “Artisan Cheese Wagon” offering five Italian inspired cheeses, including a wild mushroom cheese and bruschetta cheese from local cheese maker, “Friends Farm,” in Williamsburg, PA. Served with grilled flat bread, fresh grapes, a mini cannoli, and complimentary regular and non-alcoholic wine. Kudos to Chefs Paul, Robert, Dante and the entire team at West Woods!  Even bagels are purchased locally.  Westminster Woods residents and staff enjoy freshly baked bagels packaged and personally delivered from The Garlic Clove – Grab and Go Kitchen – a local eatery in Huntingdon.


Cura communities are even growing their own!  Pickering Manor residents at this Newtown, PA community are enjoying fresh from the garden purple basil, cucumbers, rosemary, Greek oregano, lemon thyme, sage, strawberry mint, garlic chives and San Marzano yellow and orange tomatoes. A special shout out to Jon Bibic, Cura production manager, who tends and cares for the 10×12 garden so residents can savor these delicious herbs and vegetables with their entrees, in their salad and as a garnish!

For those communities who don’t have the space to grow their own, Cura teams offer farmer’s markets for residents and staff such as the one recently held at Lutheran Seniorlife at the Passavant in Zelienople, PA. Where else can you savor fresh from the garden produce and baked goods made in house including strawberry rhubarb and peach pies, as well as Danish and fruit breads. The team also offered homemade peach and strawberry jams!


Allegheny Health Network’s Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, PA, also hosted a mini farmer’s market.  Staff could select from vine ripened tomatoes, compact tomatoes, red, green and banana peppers, zucchini, corn on the cob, cucumbers, and gala apples!  No need to stop at the grocery store here, staff selected from what they needed on their way home from work.

New Partnerships

Cura is proud to announce new dining services partnerships!  In August, Cura successfully opened The Culpeper, a Lifespire Community in Culpeper, VA.   This is the third food and beverage contract that Lifespire awarded to Cura. Earlier this year, Cura was selected for its senior living dining and clinical expertise at The Chesapeake in Newport News, VA; and the Lakewood in Richmond, VA.

Our tradition of excellent food is enhanced through the partnership with Cura. We are most impressed with the alignment of values and culture between our Lifespire communities and Cura,” says Jim Jacobsen, The Culpeper’s executive director.

Cura also opened Richmond State Hospital in Richmond, Indiana.  Richmond State Hospital is a public behavioral health facility operated by the state of Indiana and one of six state psychiatric hospitals within the Family and Social Services Administration Division of Mental Health and Addiction. As part of a newly integrated system of state psychiatric hospitals, the hospitals serve consumers across the state as the Eastern Center of Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Services.

We are certain Cura’s personalized management style and a dedication to preparing fresh and quality food will be appreciated by The Culpeper’s residents. They will experience our high level of food service and hospitality, as well as our team’s caring and nurturing culture,” says T.J. Alibrio, Cura Managing Director of Growth.

Al Fresco Dining



Outdoor eating and delivery is surging over the summer, and Cura’s operators continue to innovate as they reopen.  One lesson learned: Certain menu items travel better than others!

“Wots” in the “Wok” recently debuted outside at the Presbyterian Senior Living at Huntingdon, PA, where Cura chefs including Paul Sprowls, Robert Pennington, and Dante Tambellini prepared a stir-fry meal program from the “Wok Wagon” for independent living residents.  The “Wok Wagon” is a trailer that travels throughout campus to four different locations where Cura chefs prepare stir-fry meals to order and in front of  residents from the fully equipped wagon!  Residents selected from an orange chicken or beef  stir-fry prepared with rice and vegetables.  Both were winners at lunch!

And, if the Wok Wagon wasn’t enough, the culinary team was recently at it again.  This time, independent living residents were treated to an “Artisan Cheese Wagon” offering five Italian inspired cheeses, including a wild mushroom cheese and bruschetta cheese from local cheese maker “Friends Farm” in Williamsburg, PA. Served with grilled flat bread, fresh grapes, a mini cannoli, and complimentary regular and non-alcoholic wine. Kudos to Paul, Robert, Dante and the team at West Woods! A special shout out to Kristen Kyle, cook, who created the signage for the Artisan Cheese Wagon!

The Cura team at Peter Becker Community in Harleysville, PA, is also taking it outside.  They celebrated their successful grand “outdoor dining” opening with a delicious shrimp quinoa salad bowl with slaw for 80 residents prepared by our new Executive Chef Sam Conti! Outdoor dining is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Great job team on providing a safe dining alternative — Al Fresco!

Cura Safely Reopens


Cura’s senior living and hospital cafes are slowing reopening “safely”…and customers and residents are thrilled to be back!

Kristen Azzarello, Cura district manager and executive safety sponsor, together with Cura Managing Director Lisa Schairer, and Trish Spellman vice president of operations, assembled an inter-disciplinary group of district managers within Cura’s organization to create a COVID-19 Task Force. The Task Force continues to examine and truly scrutinize our own operational core competencies while ensuring we look to the expert regulatory agencies for input and perspective.

Leveraging both regulatory agency recommendations and our Task Force’s outcomes, Cura created its own COVID-19 Certified Re-Opening Playbook.

“I’m proud of our team – Cura is one of the first contract dining companies among its competitors to have developed a step-by-step COVID-19 playbook for reopenings.  In fact, we were the first Elior brand to create these playbooks which were used as a benchmark for other brands to follow,” says Ms. Azzarello.

The playbook for reopening details how to clean and sanitize in our new “normal.”  Everything from implementing enhanced hygiene to safeguarding employees, staff, residents and patients are covered.  Just as important, the playbook is broken down into phases for each area of operation, including:

  • Dining Room
  • Delivery Program
  • Grab and Go
  • Self-Serve/Retail
  • Catering

Many thanks to our district managers who worked with Kristen, Lisa and Trish to develop the playbook so that our operators may deliver a rewarding culinary experience while ensuring the health, safety and well-being of staff, customers and residents.  They are: Jim Crossin, Vanessa Horan, Kevin Dean, Amy Johnson and Keith Steinour.  A special thank you to Shannon Malozzi for using her marketing “magic” to package a playbook operators and clients alike are proud to use as a guide to reopen successfully!  Here are their stories:


DINING ROOMS: The reopening of the Newhaven Court was a huge success for residents who are now enjoying meals vs. delivery to their apartments at the Lutheran Seniorlife at the Passavant Community in Zelienople, PA.   There were lots of bright smiles, steaming coffee in china cups and pancakes hot off the griddle!  The dining team provides two assigned time slots for meal periods to allow for 6 ft. distancing.  Residents can also find hand sanitizing stations and a designated mask storage area at each place setting, a new normal.  Each resident receives a card with a magnet to attach to their fridge with their seating time and table number. According to Barbara Fergusen, general manager, “We used seating charts, name cards at their place setting and a designated greeter at the door to help ease residents into the new seating arrangements. We also gave out a special cookie treat with a card letting them know how much we missed having them enjoy meals in our dining room!”


DELIVERY PROGRAMS:  Hospital visitors and the local community enjoy new curbside dining services by Cura at Marion General Hospital in Columbia, Mississippi and Wise Health Surgical Hospital at Parkway in Fort Worth, Texas!

At Marion General, this new “car hop”-style service through which staff delivers meals straight to guests’ cars in the parking lot, is open to hospital visitors as well as the general public.  Guests simply place their orders over the phone, at which time they can provide a credit card number or have an order total given to them. When they arrive in the designated parking area, they place a second call to let staff know they have arrived, and a team member will bring their order to the car. Guests can also choose to pay in cash as long as they have exact change.

At Wish Health Surgical, the culinary team offers a variety of items for breakfast and lunch, free of charge, for those waiting for a loved one to have a medical procedure.  Morning meal options include cold cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, muffins, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. Lunch includes sandwich offerings such as ham and cheddar or turkey and Swiss on a ciabatta bun, chips, protein bars, a dessert of the day along with beverages.  Snacks for kids are also available. Due to demand, the team also plans to add dinner and some hot meals.  Orders, which take “no more than 5 minutes” to fulfill, are facilitated through the hospital’s front desk. The concierge takes phone orders and relays them to the kitchen, where staff have boxes lined up and ready to pack. The concierge then delivers the assembled meals to visitors’ vehicles.  This Cura story was front page news in FoodService Director Magazine!


GRAB AND GO: At Tel Hai Retirement Community in Honey Brook, PA, the Daily Brew opens safely offering independent residents and staff a “robust” grab-and-go menu.  Guests can select from salads, sandwiches, desserts, snack packs, fruit, candy – as well as a huge assortment of beverages. The display case is covered – no touching.  Two team members serve guests what they want.  The Daily Brew was a grocery store during COVID-19. We’re happy to see them back in business! At Allegheny Health Network’s Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Hills, PA, the new “normal” salad bar features daily prepackaged “upscale” salads including classic chef, classic garden, grilled or breaded chicken Caesar, spinach bacon and chicken strawberry spinach with blue cheese. Great job team on safe dining offerings!


RETAIL:  The retail coffee bar at Texas Health Frisco in Frisco, Texas recently celebrated its grand reopening.  While visiting the café, visitors can explore all the fabulous Ascension coffee beverage options, pastries and breakfast sandwiches available daily Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, pastries and beverages are offered again from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. They are even open on weekends from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. All methods of payment are accepted including payroll deduction. Thank you Ascension and the Cura team for bringing back a safe coffee bar!


SELF SERVE: Called a “Sorta” Salad Bar…the Healthcare staff at Punxsutawney Area Hospital in Pennsylvania missed the salad bar! So, the team has preportioned, and prepackaged all the veggies, lettuce and other fixings so guests can make their own salad. This is an ingenious way to offer a healthy option in a safe way. At Holy Redeemer Health System in Meadowbrook, PA, a made-to-order salad bar located in the retail food court has also reopened for staff. Guests simply point to what they want, while our dining server gathers the ingredients, mixes in a silver bowl and pours into a take-out container.  A great way to re-purpose the salad bars!


CATERING: Safe catering has returned! Cura at Lutheran Seniorlife at the Passavant Community in Zelienople, PA hosted a group of ladies who enjoyed a trio salad plate in the community’s gardens. The team did an excellent job in providing a safe way to dine by providing hand wipes and Ziploc baggies to hold their masks while they ate. It was very nice to see residents have a good time again!

Cura’s Community Heroes


Caption: Highland Community Hospital Dining Supports its Community

When the pandemic hit, the Cura team at Highland Community Hospital (a member of the Forrest Health System in south Mississippi) in Picayune, Mississippi, went into overdrive!  Director of Dining Ryan Boudreaux, Melissa Olsen, Assistant Director, RD, LD, and the rest of the dining team are preparing a variety of to-go meals for healthcare workers as well as supporting people in need throughout the community.

A key member of the team is Ms. Janie Rancifer.  Everyone knows Ms. Janie, who has been with the Forrest Health System for 20 years.  She’s the friendly face that healthcare workers look forward to seeing in the café.  “She’s a fantastic cook and the rock of our team,” says Melissa.    Since the hospital is only 45 minutes from New Orleans, Ms. Janie specializes in creole cooking, a style of cooking originating in Louisiana, which blends West African, French, Spanish, Amerindian, Haitian influences, as well as influences from the general cuisine of the Southern United States.  Ms. Janie is best known by her customers for her famous pralines!  They are a staple at all hospital special events.


Caption:  Ms. Janie Rancifer with her Famous Gumbo

Highland Community healthcare workers make it a point to visit the café on Mondays for Ms. Janie’s traditional red beans and rice.  Fridays are dedicated to Ms. Janie’s homemade “famous” chicken sausage shrimp gumbo, a “New Orleans” tradition at the hospital!  She even prepares a separate pot of chicken gumbo for staff members who do not like seafood.”

Along with Ms. Janie, the team is also supporting community members in need.  They continue to prepare 18-20 breakfast and lunches for the local Meals on Wheels program.  Meals are also prepared for the children of healthcare and dining workers, along with their volunteer teachers, who are caring for their children since day cares have been closed.

Melissa is also looking out for seniors in her community who can’t leave their homes.  She and volunteers from her team and the hospital, are assembling 165 food packages at Mana Ministries for distribution to senior centers.  The food packages contain spaghetti sauce, pasta, canned vegetables, soups and meats. Melissa is personally donating fresh fruit & vegetables!

Tornadoes may have destroyed homes, but not the will to help feed members of the Warren, AR community.   On Easter Sunday, tornadoes ripped through the area and knocked out power not only in Warren, but in surrounding towns.  Since Bradley County Medical Center is the only location in town able to prepare meals, the Cura team, led by Food Service Director Anthony Smith, is preparing meals for those in need who pick up their meals at the side entrance of the hospital.

This is a time where we are all pulling together to help one another in times of need!

Senior Living In-Room Dining



Caption:  Providence Point To-Go Containers Create Innovative Dining Delivery Program

Senior living residents are living a new life since the pandemic:  They can’t dine and be with each other in their community dining rooms.  They are eating alone in their independent homes or assisted living apartments.  Learn more from culinary team members at Cura, who are doing more than just keeping seniors safe, healthy and well nourished.  These dedicated team members are delivering hope and smiles at all of our communities.  Cura shares some of their teams’ creative delivery stories!

Providence Point in Pittsburgh, PA, is currently offering home delivery featuring a full menu.  More than 299 meals are delivered daily to independent, plus 144 to healthcare and personal care. The team decided to go the extra mile and added in word searches and crossword puzzles. Providence Point servers also had the idea of drawing pictures and messages on the takeout containers to show the residents that they are loved and missed!

At Phoebe Berks in Wernersville, PA, Cura’s team consists of high school student servers who also enjoy drawing pictures on take-out containers that they help to assemble for 1,100 meals delivered daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.   These caring young adults also grocery shop for up to 90 residents.

Resident response has been phenomenal! When the team at Sherwood Oaks in Cranberry Township, PA made its “Knock and Walk” 225 meal deliveries, residents messaged back by posting on their doors!

Cura dining team members at Lutheran Seniorlife at its Passavant community in Zelienople, PA, attach food puns to 500 food containers to spread a little cheer with resident meals. The staff came up with the puns and designs.   The cards were signed by each dietary team member, then attached to 400 meals and delivered to the residents.

St. Catherine’s Village, a continuing care retirement community in Madison, Mississippi, delivers 350 meals to independent residents where they select from a full menu; 120 meals to assisted living where they have a choice of three hot entrees; and 150 to skilled nursing.  In addition to residents, the team also serves St. Catherine’s employees up to 75 meals per day.

Something for the way home? Holy Redeemer Health System in Philadelphia makes take-out easy.  Manor dining is the new retail venue for staff in the Manor to eliminate cross contamination.

Thinking about dinner already? At Laurel View Village in Davidsville, PA, the Cura team prepared personal pan pizzas complete with bread sticks and marina sauce.  Pizza is delivered to residents in pizza boxes creating an authentic pizza delivery experience! A house-made apple dumpling with ice cream was a welcoming treat!

 Peter Becker Community in Harleysville, PA, trains high school student workers to be “concierges.”  They operate a call center seven days per week for cottage residents and staff members who wish to order from the to-go menu, as well as food items from the makeshift grocery store.  Daily huddles are conducted with student workers to provide them with communications and sales skills including how to take orders and to let residents know what items are available in the grocery store.  General Manager Josh Crandall is receiving a taste of his own dining program.  “With a limited staff, I now live at the community.  The experience gives me the opportunity to benchmark and make changes to the to-go dining and grocery program since I now have to rely on it!”

Independent residents at The Community at Rockhill in Sellersville, PA, are able to shop conveniently and safely at the community’s own Josey’s Store daily.  Josey’s sells grocery and pantry supplies (including ice cream!) and will soon offer frozen meals.  Social distancing is enforced with six-feet space markers secured “by the residents” on the floor to guide everyone in the hallway. Due to the pandemic, residents cannot purchase the supplies for their store.    The Cura team, along with Sysco Philadelphia, are happy to facilitate the purchase and distribution of the supplies sold at Josey’s Store.   Josey’s Store is a wonderful amenity managed by the residents… for the residents!

Cura residents at the Lutheran Community at Telford, PA enjoy hot meals delivered daily to their rooms featuring a choice of two soups, two entrees such as ham or barbecue chicken, baked sweet potato and tiramisu!  Residents can also order fresh baked cookies, soft pretzels, ice cream sundaes, snack bags, cheddar popcorn and a slice of fresh baked pizza!  To help with basic needs, Cura operates a small grocery store that fills orders daily for residents like milk, eggs, fresh vegetables and bottled beverages.

Communities like Carver Ridge Senior Living in Carver, MN, now offer mobile hydration – a refreshing door-to-door service that promotes wellness! Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, deliver nutrients to cells and helps prevent infections!

And, everyone needs a “Happy Hour.”  The Cura dining team made it happen at Urbana Place Senior Living in Urbana, OH, a member of Tealwood Senior Living. Mai Thais and tropical fruit tarts are delivered to resident apartments.



Hospitals Re-Purpose Cafes to Support Healthcare Heroes


Caption:  Indiana Regional Medical Center Creates Convenient Grocery Shopping for Healthcare Workers

Mobile grocery marts are popping up all over to help our healthcare workers who don’t have time to visit the grocery store.  They are busy risking their health to help save lives.  Cura brings the store to them by re-purposing hospital cafeterias into a convenient shopping experience!

At Allegheny Health Network’s Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Hills, PA, and at St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA, staples like milk, loaves of bread, butter, eggs and iced tea are easily purchased from upright coolers.

Ordering pizza and other to-go meals are made easy for our healthcare “lifesavers” at Allegheny Health Network’s Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, PA.

At Indiana Regional Medical Center in Indiana, PA, the salad bar is now used as a grab-and-go like store where healthcare workers can find boxes of cereal, canned goods, pasta, pasta sauce, bread, peanut butter and jams – even paper goods like toilet paper!

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital‘s Riverview Cafe is now Cura’s Corner Market! Healthcare workers can shop for dinner featuring fresh assorted individually packaged raw meats kept frozen in the empty salad bar, along with containers of homemade sides from 11 am-7:30 pm. Grocery items are also available at the hospital located in Seaford, DE.

Cura is also here to help our healthcare “heroes” shop at Punxsutawney Area Hospital‘s café in Punxsutawney, PA, where the Cura team has it stocked with much needed grocery and other staples including paper towels and toilet paper!  According to Ron Burkhardt, Chef Manager for Cura at the hospital, is also collecting egg cartons, “Eggs are in high demand.  They are less expensive if I purchase on 2.5 dozen flats, which is where the egg cartons come in handy.  I sanitize the cartons I receive and then re-package the eggs in the cartons.”

At Marion General Hospital in Marion, IN, sales are soaring at their new grocery market which supports healthcare workers with an abundance of “at cost” offerings including fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats; dairy, pasta, sauces, soups, cereals & assorted dry goods!  In just three weeks, sales topped $10,000!  Marion will soon expand using its mobile POS system to offer the market to the other Marion General Hospital satellite locations.  Customers will fax in their orders and the team will package for them in advance.  What’s convenient about the “Drive Up, Pick Up” system is that healthcare employees will select the time for “pick up”, slide their badge for payment, while the team loads their orders in their vehicles!  Kudos to Cura’s team members Joy Michael, Andy Sheron & Sarah Gerstorff!


Caption:  Marion General Hospital’s Grocery Market 

Washington Health System including Washington Hospital and Washington Greene  in PA are offering family meals to go.  Every day is a different meal option and each week the menu changes.  Order by 10 a.m. and pick up at 4 p.m.  The hospital has also added groceries.  What a great way to make dinner time (and picking up some essential staples) more convenient for our healthcare heroes!

On your way home? Several “to-go” selections such as deli sandwiches, salads and desserts are prepared by the Cura team at Field Health System in Centreville Mississippi.  Great job in supporting your healthcare heroes!

Our healthcare workers are courageous people, the backbone of our healthcare system.  This is the least we can do to thank them and make their lives a little easier when they are shopping for their families.

Read more about our hospital mini markets in Food Management Magazine here.



A Day In The Life of Serving During a Pandemic


Caption:  Alyssa Dzurkovich, Student Dining Worker at Phoebe Berks

Senior living residents are living a new life since the pandemic.  Learn more from Cura culinary team members at Phoebe Berks, a senior living continuing care retirement community in Wernersville, PA, where Cura’s team prepares and delivers more than just meals…

Cura’s team includes 19 high school student servers from Conrad Weiser High School and Wilson High School who help to assemble 1,000 meals that are prepared fresh and delivered to resident door steps daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  According to Mark Olszewski, Cura General Manager of Dining at Phoebe Berks, we employ these dedicated student workers, who are managed by Lauren Brubaker and Tanya Cone, Dining Services Managers.  “These ladies are a very important part of our team – they manage the system.  They organize the delivery for the students and ensure the process runs smoothly.”

Alyssa Dzurkovich, 18, who lives in Wernersville, is one of the student workers.  She has been a member of the Phoebe dining team for two and a half years.  A server and dietary aide, Alyssa is also a senior at Wilson High School in West Lawn, PA.  Senior year is an important time – prom, graduation and just spending time with your friends.  There are 12 seniors, including Alyssa, who won’t be able to experience these special milestones. “It’s hard, but we’re trying to keep our senior class members positive,” she says.

Alyssa now has another role.  She and other student dining workers are also making a difference in the lives of the residents, helping them to remain positive and giving them cheer during this challenging time. They are drawing pictures on take-out containers and sending messages of love and “miss you” to the residents.   “The residents are very sweet people.  They thank us by writing us notes or messaging back,” says Alyssa.

 The day begins at 6 a.m. for the dining staff of 75.    As the team gets ready to take 225 “phone-in” meal orders from the residents as early as 7 a.m., Executive Chef Eric Shocket and Nate Phillips, Sous Chef, are very busy managing our back-of-the-house kitchen operations.  Together, all day, they prep, dice, sauté, grill, cook and bake.  They ensure our residents can select from several made-to-order options for breakfast and lunch including a variety of deli sandwiches and homemade chili!   Home cooked dinners always feature two specials that changes daily.  A sample dinner menu is minestrone soup, smoked sausage, baked lemon pepper catfish fillet, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and spring vegetables.

Who can pass up desserts like cookies and pies baked fresh onsite like coconut custard and pecan!  In addition to a traditional Easter dinner, the dining team will prepare themed dinners including a recent St. Louis Barbecue themed dinner featuring ribs, big butter beans and cornbread!     “This is a special team.  We have adult team members who work 12 to 13-hour days to make sure our residents are fed and well cared for,” says Mark.

When asked if it was a difficult transition to go from traditional sit-down meals to all to-go orders, Mark and his team never missed a beat as this was not the first, but the third dining transition this year.  Just prior to the pandemic, over 130 independent residents were served their meals in the community’s auditorium due to an extensive front-of-the house renovation of their community dining rooms.  The dining team currently was using the auditorium to assemble meals, but now has moved to the newly renovated dining areas for assembly. “We just go with the changes and make sure that the residents never think that their dining experience is compromised.   We continue to prepare and serve a full menu, and will try to accommodate anything they desire,” says Mark.

Staples and other grocery items are also available for purchase through dining including milk, orange juice, iced tea, eggs, deli meat and salads by the pound, frozen Stauffer’s meals, breads sold by the loaf, freshly baked cookies, condiments and Turkey Hill ice cream…of course!  Our caring, young and responsible student workers will also grocery shop for other items.   Alyssa is part of the group of seven students who take the grocery lists of 90 residents and grocery shop for them at the local Redner’s.  “The residents are so thankful.  I really like them and my job at Phoebe,” says Alyssa.

Although Alyssa’s senior year will not be what she had hoped for, she and the group of student workers will always be remembered for the sacrifices they made — providing a special gift of compassion to our seniors!  Read more here in the Reading Eagle News.


Meet Cura Culinary Personalities


Caption: Chef Eileen with Cook Derrick Drayton Prepare Fried Chicken!

Cura is best known for enhancing life around great food, but did you know that team members are also famous culinary personalities featured in their communities and hospitals?  Meet some of our personalities who are providing an element of entertainment to dining!

Cooking with Eileen creates healthy and innovative entertainment for our residents through physical distancing!  Director of Dining Eileen Goos, CDM, CFPP, at Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina at Summerville, is the star chef of the show, conducting live culinary demonstrations that are streamed to resident apartments through the community’s in-house tv channel.

Cooking with Eileen debuted in late March 2020 featuring how to create the best-tasting tuna avocado salad in Summerville, SC!  The recipe called for tuna, red onion, colorful peppers and fresh avocado seasoned with fresh grated lemon and olive oil. Chef Eileen prepared her recipes step by step, and even addressed the nutritional benefits of tuna and avocado – both heart-healthy ingredients!    “We did a resident survey of what they liked best about Cooking with EileenResidents enjoyed the show, but especially loved the nutritional benefits that I provide.”

Cooking with Eileen is now a staple program at Summerville.  During the second show, Chef Eileen prepared a pork tenderloin with sautéed spinach, which will be on the Summerville menu once dining rooms reopen.   The most popular segment by far was fried chicken, one of the most treasured foods of the south!  “Preparing fried chicken is a two-day process.  Together with my cook, Derrick Drayton, we brine the chicken and let it set overnight so it soaks in buttermilk.  The next day we drain the chicken, bread, and then deep fry in canola oil (no trans-fat),” says Chef Eileen.  A Summerville activities staff member even stopped by the Cooking with Eileen set dressed as a fried chicken!

At press time, Cooking with Eileen was taking it outside – preparing for an All-American traveling cook out!   The Cooking with Eileen team will place their grill on a flat-bed trailer and drive it to several spots throughout campus.   The trailer is decorated with red, white and blue streamers and balloons giving it an authentic All-American look.  Once the grill arrives, residents are encouraged to come out on their porch and enjoy the cook-out where Chef Eileen is grilling burgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob, later served for lunch to residents in their apartments.    “Since we can only hit a little bit of the campus at one time, the event will take us three weeks to travel throughout the entire community, “says Chef Eileen.

Before moving to SC to manage the Summerville community, Chef Eileen managed the food service for Cura at St. Anne’s Community and last served as the director of dining at Phoebe Richland, both located in PA.  Residents love Chef Eileen wherever she manages!    Chef Eileen was also featured in FoodService Director Magazine in Feb. 2020 for being the “first” senior living community to participate in Scrumptious South Carolina, a local fundraiser that benefits victims of child abuse.

Jovane Stephens, dining assistant at Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Jefferson Hospital, made a cameo appearance in AHN’s commercial on the importance of staying home!  Jovane is the fifth person in the commercial who exclaims “Get Back on that Couch!”  The commercial is currently airing throughout Pittsburgh. 

Jovane joined Cura in 2016 and was the recent recipient of the Recognize and Acknowledge Valued Employees (RAVE) award!  RAVE is an Allegheny Health Network (AHN) award that honors employees who provide exemplary care or service to patient, a patient’s relative, friend or a fellow employee.   Jovane was one of two Cura employees who received the RAVE award, the first time that non-AHN employees received the awards!

A patient remarked on Jovane’s dedication to the people he serves:  “I had a test which caused me to miss breakfast.  When I returned, Jovane called my room and asked if a bagel was delivered.  When I said no, he promptly took my order and had an early lunch tray delivered.  This really had an impact on me and my stay.  Every time he comes to the floor, he is upbeat and positive.  He is truly a model employee.”

Punxsutawney “Phil’s” café news from Chef Manager Ron Burkhardt is published monthly and features everything from menu offerings, COVID-19 refresher tips, to what’s available in the new grocery market at Punxsutawney Area Hospital in PA!   In fact, the new market, made possible by Ron and his team, recently made the local Punxsutawney news for helping those on the frontlines at the hospital who have little opportunity to go grocery shopping.  The market is stocked with several staples including paper towels and toilet paper!  Ron is also collecting egg cartons, “Eggs are in high demand.  They are less expensive if I purchase on 2.5 dozen flats, which is where the egg cartons come in handy.  I sanitize the cartons I receive and then re-package the eggs in the cartons,” says Ron.

Keep on the look out for more of “Cura’s” culinary personalities…