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“Delicious” is not usually the first word that comes to mind when people talk about retirement community food.

Larry Bone, General Manager at Seasons First Avenue Retirement Community in Southern Ontario, has a philosophy of food that goes to the heart of why we eat.  In addition to his GM role, he is also charged with establishing the Seasons Retirement Communities rich and healthy dining program, which ensures residents are well cared for and well fed.  He knows that food is powerful.

He believes the dining experience is about relationships. “At Seasons, we encourage anyone who serves and cooks to connect with the residents and make them feel at home. Residents come to Seasons from their own homes where they cooked and ate what they wanted – the transition into a new environment may be challenging.  Good food helps.”

Seasons recognizes the profound importance of a successful transition and has in place a personalized system to make it as smooth as possible. “The chef meets with every resident to determine dietary needs, likes and dislikes through a face to face conversation within two or three days of arrival”, says Bone and notes that Seasons is aware of allergies and intolerances and provides residents with reminders and options.

“It’s all about choice”, says Bone. “We offer one main entrée with seven extra options including sandwiches and eggs.  It all depends on the desires of the residents.”  A resident food council meets monthly and reports what it would like to see changed or added to the dining experience. It must be working as resident Carson Ford rates the food 9 / 10. “It’s good, no it’s excellent.  I’ve been in other retirement homes and they don’t compare!”

For example, a recent celebration of Earth Day featured this menu focusing on Ontario fare:

Carrot and Dill Soup

Mixed Grill of Ontario Lamb Chop and Grilled Sausage

Sautéed Portobello & Oyster Mushrooms with Baby Spinach

Roasted Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes

Apple & Rhubarb Cobbler

Dining is an essential social element of the Seasons wellness philosophy.  Bone says mealtime is when staff know for sure that people are going to come together and socialize.  It’s the biggest gathering of the day.  “We teach the servers in dining room to interact with the residents, engage, have fun, enjoy the time, and put on a bit of a show.  It’s not just about putting the food down, it’s the manner in which you do it and how you engage”.

Proper nutrition and lack of appetite are often problems with the elderly. Seasons takes a team approach to spotting potential issues.  Dining room staff reports any changes in residents’ eating habits to the nursing team. They work together closely to monitor everyone for optimum health.

Food is also fun.  Ever mindful of that, Seasons provides special themed menus at least once a month for holidays.  Bone says “Everyone has their special thing. We do corn roasts, chili cook offs, and big outdoor barbeques. These events hit home with the residents!”

Thoughtful details make a difference. The chef in each Seasons Community develops a relationship with local farmers to obtain regional, seasonal foods. If a resident is feeling unwell, tray service may be ordered to the room.  Each home has a 24-hour bistro offering coffee, tea and juice as well as fruit, cookies and muffins.

Family and friends are always welcome at Seasons.  Residents can reserve tables in the dining room to enjoy a meal with their guests.  For bigger events, they can also reserve the gourmet kitchen in the Gathering Room where they can dine and prepare food from outside or order from the kitchen.

Just like home.  On which note, here’s the recipe for Larry’s crowd-pleasing Chicken and Corn Chowder soup:

Seasons Chicken and Corn Chowder

8 oz                        Cooked , diced chicken
1 lg                         Carrot, peeled and diced
1 med                    Onion, diced
3 stks                    Celery, washed and diced
2 cls                      Garlic, minced
1 ea                       Green Pepper, diced
2 med                   Tomatoes, seeded & diced
2 med                   Potatoes, diced
3 oz                      Frozen Corn
2 oz                      Butter
2 oz                      All Purpose Flour
4 lit                      Chicken stock
2 oz                      Milk
2 sprigs              Thyme, picked and chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a pot, melt the butter and cook the celery, carrots, peppers and onions until soft.  Add the chicken and the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and stir until everything is coated and the flour starts to stick to the bottom of the pot.  Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring constantly. Do not let it get lumpy.  Turn the heat to medium and add the potatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes are al dente.  Add the tomatoes, corn and thyme.  Cook for another 7 minutes. Add the milk and stir, add salt and pepper to taste and cook another 2 minutes.  Serve hot with fresh bread or biscuits.

Seasons Retirement Communities

Call today to book your personal visit.
905-864-6888 | http://seasonsretirement.com/communities/milton/
760 Bronte Street South, Milton, ON L9T 8X4