Menu Choices that Unite your Community

Let’s consider how we might honor the ethnic and cultural diversity in our nursing home or assisted living community. One sure-fired way is by offering a diversified menu that includes traditional ethnic dishes (representing the diversity of your home’s population). It will not only provide variety in meals but also exploring other cultures can create unity and fond memories amongst residents within the community.

In order to make that happen, you need to make it easy for residents to discuss what they want to eat and share ideas for making dishes from their cultures and traditions. For that, you need documents that lay the groundwork for just such a discussion. One of the documents that we created is called “It’s Your Choice: Resident Council Survey for Menu Preferences.” This document provides residents with the opportunity to have their voices heard when it comes to what, when and where they want to eat as a group. People can discuss what they want for breakfast, lunch and dinner, menu preferences based on religious observations, what foods they want and don’t want, and recommendations of mealtime favorite that other folks might want to try.  “What are your Favorite Meals?” is the area of the survey that encourages people to list meals that may have an ethnic origin such a Ropa Vieja or Brisket with Potato Latkes. The great thing about this is that your residents can celebrate culture in a fun and interesting way.

Another helpful document that we use when trying to diversify menus is simply called Dining Preferences. This records a person’s individual dining choices including religious, cultural and ethnic foods that they prefer. Using this form in combination with the resident council survey may yield a number of ethnic and cultural menu choices that can be served to bond a community using food as the glue. As I have said many times before, my Grammy taught me that food is linked with feelings and memories.  Making meal times more inclusive and diverse encourages people to get together based on their differences and come away realizing they are more alike than they think. Food is the great uniter and should be added to your toolkit to help forge a tight knit community composed of people of all faiths, ethnicities and cultures.

To get you started on your path to a more inclusive, varied menu, we would like to offer you a free copy of our Dining Preferences form. Remember, it is our differences along with our similarities that make a community unique.

About Diane Hall

Diane Hall has always had a heart for older adults. It’s why senior nutrition became her life-long vocation and unquenchable passion. And it is why she is now regarded as a visionary and leader in this rapidly evolving field. An expert consultant and nationally recognized speaker, Diane is a powerful advocate for the new dining standards that have resulted from the shift in the culture of long term care. For her it’s not just a trend. It’s her life.
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