Even if it was the Ritz? This is, of course, a challenge for senior housing, especially when (as in Florida) the state requires that all assisted and memory care residents be provided three meals daily plus a snack.
We do have a grand advantage at Anthem Lakes, having been able to attract Chef Vee (formerly with the University Club. Skill clearly matters, and a few of her past creations will illustrate that marvelously.
Let’s step back and consider a few of the ‘Healthy Eating Guidelines for Seniors’ from from the National Council on Aging.
Stay hydrated. Eat a variety of foods to get nutrients – “Your plate should look like a rainbow—bright, colored foods are always the best choice! A healthy meal should include” lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy.
But is that enough? Great food, great presentation, varied menus? No, not even if always the same room even at the Ritz. Which explains the trend to having multiple dining venues with different feels. For example, at Anthem Lakes we will have a bistro with a full bar — think of the 19th hole at a golf course. The opportunity for outdoor dining in our courtyards, or in the screened patios.
Then, of course, budget. Viewed creatively, this is more than simply canned, frozen, or fresh. Let’s consider what was achieved last year at our small residential care facility in Saint Louis. In a space measuring only 40 feet by 80 feet the total crop yield was 38,000 pounds. Monsanto assisted in the layout, and Home Depot assisted in the creation of the plant beds. Residents became engaged in gardening that naturally has therapy aspects, including even hand pincher movements to do transplanting. At Anthem Lakes we have 14 acres, and a culture that encourages engagement.
The Saint Louis property produced in such abundance that trading fresh organic vegetables for fruit became another innovation. At Anthem Lakes we will explore being able to donate excess production to local nonprofits.
No doubt Chef Vee at Anthem Lakes is already thinking about the creation of an herb garden!
Certainly our activity director is already scouting sites for gardening beyond the raised planter beds as well as composting. Budget matters. Presentation and food quality matter. Having varied dining venues matters. We believe having the bistro matters as well. Beyond all those however (and they all matter!) is the opportunity resident engagement. We certainly expect to sponsor activity with the adjoining charter school, so this becomes a chance for both involvement with nature and intergenerational engagement. Going to be great fun!