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Reinventing Our Kitchens

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Reinventing Our Kitchens

We’ve mentioned before that nutrition can make a major difference for people with substance use disorders. As such, we’re excited to share some updates on a few structural changes that will put nutrition right at the focus of our work.

In October, we hired Jane Gajewski as our new food services manager. She has extensive experience in food service for nonprofits and large-scale residential facilities. In fact, she helped another nonprofit in the area develop their standardized menu from the ground up. Now, she’ll be doing the same for us.

Jane spent her first three months learning about our different programs and practices. One of her first steps was to visit each program to evaluate their kitchens. “It gave me a picture of Cazenovia as a whole,” she said. “It made me fall in love with this place even more.”

Jane Gajewski, food services manager

Jane Gajewski, food services manager

Standardization & Inspiration

Next, she’s going to focus on two primary goals: enhancing our standardized practices and helping our residents learn.

Jane is in the process of developing standardized menus for our food service specialists and facility assistants to use. However, Jane stressed that she wants these staff members to add their own personal uniqueness to the menus. If chicken cacciatore is the main dish for dinner, but someone makes a delicious chicken curry, staff should feel empowered to change up the menu a bit.

Her second goal is to inspire our residents to learn how to cook. Cazenovia Recovery hopes that residents will leave our programs knowing at least a few healthy recipes. When residents move on to independence, Jane hopes that they will “be more successful with cooking and nutrition.” Under Jane’s direction, our food service specialists and facility assistants will ensure that our residents can make nutritious dishes on their own.

Jane also knows that eating healthily can improve the day-to-day lives of residents while they’re in our programs. “I want the residents to be happy,” said Jane. “If they have good food, they’re going to have a good attitude in groups,” she added.

Sundram Manor's Kitchen

Sundram Manor’s Dining Room

Early Results

Jane’s work is well underway throughout the agency. First, though, she’s planning on piloting her complete vision at Sundram Manor. Soon after, Madonna House and Casa Di Vita will transition to the new model. Jane hopes to involve all of our programs later this year.

Some of her changes have already been received well. At Sundram Manor, residents are “happy and positive” about the food service changes they’ve seen so far.

As she’s met people from across the agency, Jane has been extremely impressed with the “amazing people” she’s met. Like the rest of our staff, Jane knows that our residents are our top priority: “I believe Cazenovia wants to be a part of each resident’s success story, and I want food service to be a chapter.”

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