What’s On The Menu? Congregate Meals for Senior Citizens Bonnie Athas 4th State Units on Aging Nutritionists & Administrators Conference August 2006
Today’s congregate meals are more than just a nicely cooked nutritious meal placed before a senior.
They are carefully written to meet every senior’s desire including: the inclusion of all likes the exclusion of all dislikes free of trans fats low in sodium free of foods that may cause allergic reactions foods are pleasantly seasoned but not too spicy prepared by braising, roasting, simmering or searing chilled to perfection
and carefully placed before the senior client on a beautiful linen- covered table with lovely pressed napkins, fashionably appointed china and exquisite glassware, with the finest silver utensils the budget has afforded.
Everyone at the table is pleasant, happy, feeling great, and excited to meet their friends and neighbors. Most look forward to the after-lunch activities with great anticipation, knowing they will learn something new that will enliven and fill their hours until they return once again, the next day, day after day, after day, after day.
The Blueprint Who writes your menus: the seniors, the cooks, the center director, the nutrition program manager, the dietitian? All of them must be included! Your Advisory Council should review the comments about the meals on a regular basis. Customers must like the foods served or they will not come back – even at the senior centers.
The Attracter How are the meals advertised? Give it a name Use “Super Foods” Highlight “Super Foods”
The Setting How’s the dining room? (Great marketing or a turn off?) Round tables for easier conversation? Greeter to escort to table/friends? Setting – cozy? Pleasant music? Entertainment appropriate?
Say What? What’s new that the senior clients will want to know? Make the announcement intriguing.
“Super Foods” “Wednesday, at 11 a.m. join Connie Lonnie, Livingston Center Dietitian, and discover what makes salmon so healthy for your heart, why tomatoes are tops for cancer prevention, how yogurt helps our digestive system, and much, much more! You will also learn how to make two easy, tasty and simple summertime snacks! Connie Lonnie will demonstrate how to prepare a delicious bean dip and a refreshing yogurt parfait! You get to taste the results.”
“ America by Food ” Regional traditions Explore the two ingredients that are key to American cuisine International influences See: www.keyingredients.org
"Fruit and Veggies: More Matters ” Develop Your Own List of Superfoods to Include in Your Diet. “My Superfoods” along with “My Pyramid” The “5-A-Day” name will disappear completely in 2007. Check out the new theme: http://www.steel.org/news/newsletters/20 0604/cfa.htm
“Make your own list” For a great guide to buying the freshest and healthiest produce, dairy, bread, and meats, go to http://www.michigan.gov/documents/SupermktSurvival(20pp)_9732_7.pdf before your next supermarket excursion. Take a look at the rapid rise of "Whole Foods".
Keep in mind: The "super" connotation may narrow food choice rather than expand it. Seniors want excitement but they also want satisfaction! Are we eating "stuff" because we think it is good for us, versus eating food because it is meaningful beyond nutritional parameters?
It ’ s an exciting time for healthier eating! Check out the article in the August 2005 issue of the Tufts newsletter – "51 Healthy Foods You Can Say ‘YES’ To."
Three Messages to keep in focus Food acceptable? Setting inviting? Education interesting? Have fun with the creation of each category, but remember, you are competing with every business in town. Sell your program!