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!