Senior Living Residences’ Communities Take A Local Approach To Food
While the local food movement is increasingly gaining popularity across the country, sourcing the best and freshest local ingredients is a concept that has been championed by Senior Living Residences for a decade. Through some unique food purveyors and some creative local relationships, every Senior Living Residences’ community can say that a significant portion of their every day menu offerings is coming from local farms and producers, or “Farm-to-Table.”
“Resident quality of life is our number one priority. This is a core value that resonates through every aspect of every community, and one that needs to be reflected in the quality of food that we serve every day,” says Kim Smith, Corporate Director of Dining Experience.
It was in support of that mission that Senior Living Residences was prompted to develop their award-winning Brain Healthy Cooking program back in 2009, a nutrition program for residents based on the Mediterranean Diet and relies heavily on access to fresh vegetables, fruits and fish. The program was in development for three years while Smith investigated ways to make the Brain Healthy Cooking program as healthy and as flavorful as possible. “To do it right required access to locally harvested food,” she explains.
When looking for a new major food purveyor that could offer locally farmed foods to Senior Living Residences’ growing portfolio of communities throughout New England, Smith turned to Baldor Specialty Foods. The premiere family-owned company traces its roots back more than 100 years and has established strong relationships with dozens of farms across the Northeast offering the freshest produce, meats, and dairy products.
“We’re a big company, but we buy small,” says Leo Nikolouzos, Representative from Baldor Specialty Foods’ Boston team. “We bring together the freshest products from dozens and dozens of farmers to fulfill one order. For us, we take pride in being a regional food distributor, and see our work as part of a harmonious ecosystem that starts at the farm and ends at your table. Baldor’s pledge to source regionally can be a helpful vehicle in our local growing season: it not only helps distribute local products to restaurants and consumers in our region, but it also makes it easy for restaurants and food service establishments to ensure they’re receiving local produce.”
Smith says that many of Senior Living Residences’ community chefs also have hyper-local farm relationships to support local growers and she herself works with several Boston-based fisheries. Through most seasons, a significant portion of the menu is farmed locally in traditional outdoor farms during the New England growing season, as well as cultivated during other times of the year in specialized greenhouses.
“Residents and their families can trust that our kitchens are cooking everything from scratch,” says Smith. “Unlike common industry practices, we do not rely on pre-made products that can be high in sodium and saturated fats. I monitor our chefs’ weekly orders to ensure this practice.”
“We may be paying more for our food but preparing dishes with fresh ingredients offering the most nutritional value is a major factor in the health benefits that our Brain Healthy Cooking Program offers,” explains Smith. “Our residents are worth it!”