CAHF Cooks Up Recipe for Dietary Success

For Immediate Release
June 7, 2017

State grant targets food safety in skilled nursing facilities

SACRAMENTO Cooks and food handlers who prepare and serve meals to residents in California skilled nursing facilities will be better equipped to deliver safe and nutritious meals thanks to a $1.1 million dietary grant from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The four-year grant will be administered by the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF) which represents a majority of the state’s 1,200 skilled nursing facilities. A robust curriculum of education materials, in-person training sessions, manuals, webinars and checklists will be developed to train dietary workers about best practices in safe food storage, handling and preparation. One component of the training will feature short, targeted videos in three languages.

“Dietary deficiencies continue to present a challenge to our providers,” said Lisa Hall, CAHF director of regulatory affairs. “During the past three years, dietary issues were the number one written deficiency statewide.  With training and education, we hope to find a recipe for better outcomes,” she added.

An additional challenge for dieticians in skilled nursing facilities involves balancing the food preferences of each resident with physician orders for special diets – while providing choices to improve the overall dining experience.

Existing federal dietary requirements are extensive and cover standards to procure, store, prepare, distribute and serve food in a safe and sanitary manner. Other requirements include the need to employ qualified and sufficient staff, prepare food that is nutritional, served at a safe temperature and prepared in a way to preserve flavor and appearance. 

The education will be provided free of charge to skilled nursing facility administrators, directors of nursing, directors of staff development, registered dieticians, dietary supervisors and managers, cooks and food prep staff.

At the end of the Dietary Services Project, CAHF will identify and analyze the extent to which dietary deficiencies have been reduced.