I visited Meals on Wheels of Syracuse located just outside of downtown. This is facility is part of a nationwide organization which provides nutrition to homebound seniors. Some of the challenges faced by this population and therefore by this facility are participant health concerns and limitations. Many of the seniors who are enrolled in this program have health problems which include hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. These medical concerns have associated dietary considerations that must be accommodated. Meals on Wheels (MOW) staff must be notified of these concerns, and make appropriate dietary adjustments to the foods that will be served to these individuals. Along with ...view middle of the document...
For example, if an item is on the menu, but they run out of it, it will be substituted by something else. This substitution may be similar to the intended item, or may be completely different. It also seems that participants who are towards the end of the list will often receive the substitutions. This means that the same people are continuously receiving substitutions. One instance when I say this as an issue was the Thanksgiving meal. Most participants received a hot turkey dinner, but when the turkey ran out, roast beef was the substitution. This may have been quite disappointed to some people. I would suggest preparing enough food so everyone gets the same meal, which may mean that better serving controls be set up to keep portion sizes the same so food doesn’t run out, and more consideration for substitutions should they be needed.
Part 3: Staff and Equipment
MOW is a nonprofit organization, but must pay 6 kitchen staff along with other administrative staff. The organization relies heavily on volunteers throughout the community. Volunteers may be placed in kitchen prep, meal assembly, or delivery driver. A MOW representative stated that they are sufficiently staffed. She explained that even when there are very few volunteers, they manage to get everything done. My own observation is that there are certain days of the week where there is a surplus of volunteers and tasks are run quite efficiently, however, other days seem to be somewhat more stressful due to a lack in volunteers.
Five out of 6 employees are ServSafe certified, and a few volunteers hold the same credentials. MOW attracts many nutrition students who often hold these credentials. This allows for the use of sanitary techniques with very little training necessary. The understanding of food safety and personal cleanliness is established in these employees and volunteers. Others who don’t hold this certification may require some training and observation in food sanitation.
Much of the equipment in the Syracuse MOW is not Energy Star or high efficiency rated however; they have recently acquired two new convention ovens which are. These were purchased with grant money within the last year.
MOW really seems to take advantage of the human power that they have on a given day. A few minutes are spent informing the employees and volunteers on what should be placed on each tray, and then the line begins. It moves quickly and efficiently and therefore is quite productive.
Part 4: Kitchen Layout
The nature of the MOW organization requires unique considerations for kitchen layout. The kitchen must accommodate the tasks of a typical commercial kitchen, and also tray assembly. While some areas of the kitchen have a logical layout, others areas are left to use what space is available which results in poor kitchen flow. Much of the large equipment is organized around the perimeter of the space. This includes two large walk-in freezers, a dishwashing station, a 3 bay sink, convection ovens, and...