Peter Becker Community (PBC) in Harleysville, PA, finally reopened their independent living (IL) dining venues on Monday, March 1st. Residents celebrated by making reservations for an all-day Asian buffet in the Garden View Dining Room, or they could dine casually in the Seasons Cafe. “We wanted to give all of our IL residents the opportunity to dine with us on Monday,” says Josh Crandall, general manager of dining.
The community was able to open successfully after PBC CEO and President Suzanne Owens advocated for all her residents to finally receive the COVID vaccination. According to Ms. Owens, while long-term care residents are at the top of Pennsylvania’s priority list in phase one of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, PBC had not received enough of the supply. Ms. Owens testified during a Pennsylvania state hearing on COVID vaccinations. “Not only have our seniors suffered immensely during this pandemic, but they are at the highest risk of fatality. Whether they ever see their families and loved ones again rests in our ability to distribute the vaccine to this demographic.”
The pandemic has been quite isolating for residents, particularly the IL residents who live in the apartments and cottages. “Because they don’t have full meal plans, they felt disconnected from the community because we didn’t want them to enter our buildings during the height of COVID. We encouraged them to do take out and utilize our delivery services for both food and our grocery program,” says Crandall. PBC and Cura designed tier-level dining plans featuring multiple levels of participation, flexibility and opportunities designed to accommodate residents best suited for occasional dining, weekly dining as well as daily dining at all four PBC campus restaurants. “We had finally built a robust program for them, only to lose our momentum when COVID hit,” he says.
However, IL took advantage of the robust grocery program, take-out food service and outdoor dining as a safe “al fresco” alternative. “Over 80 IL residents participated in our grand opening for outdoor dining where they were served a shrimp quinoa salad bowl with slaw prepared by our new Executive Chef Sam Conti! Outdoor dining was open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For the indoor grand opening celebration, Crandall had over 100 reservations for lunch and dinner scattered from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. “Most reservations were in the evening, but we encouraged residents to beat the crowds and come out for lunch. Adhering to Elior Safe Cafe guidelines we can accommodate 50 residents at a time, but we also have areas for overflow. The goal is for people in the dining room to socialize, interact and to experience the food that featured general Tso chicken, soy ginger braised beef and stir fry shrimp,” Crandall says.
Thank you to Ms. Owens for her success in securing vaccines for all PBC residents and to give them their community and “dining” back!