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A Day in the Life of a Cook

A Day in the Life of a Cook

Oct. 8th, 2021

Pictured: Angela Cope pushing a cart for our residents

Here at Saber Healthcare, our cooks are responsible for making the residents delicious meals that meet all of their dietary needs.

Today, we’re shining a light on two of Saber Healthcare’s best cooks: Janice “Peach” Skinner-Kittle, Day Cook from Bath Creek Health & Rehab, and Angela Cope, Dietary Cook from Cortland Healthcare. These women are dedicated to their role and serving meals to the residents every day.

“Working as a cook in healthcare is very exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling,” Peach said.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 15 and I’m 51 now. Every day, I learn more about cooking and try something new,” Cope said.

What is it like to work for the food service field within healthcare?

Both Peach and Cope said that working as a cook in the healthcare industry is different than working in a restaurant environment.

“It’s more satisfying to work in the healthcare industry. We have more one-on-one contact with the residents we serve, unlike a restaurant where you cook them food once and they leave. We get to know them on a personal basis and learn their diets, habits, and preferences,” Peach said.

“I personally don’t think I can work anywhere else. We have a wonderful supervisor, Jannetta, and work as a team to prepare meals for the residents. I am proud to make food that not only tastes good, but also has a good presentation for our residents. Presentation of the food is important because I am a cook who sees this as more than just a job,” Cope said.

What does a day in your job look like?

Cooks at Saber Healthcare are responsible for preparing meals for the residents and ensuring that all of their dietary needs are met. Peach and Cope shared the breakdown of their day and how they work to accomplish their goals.

“When I first come in, I immediately start preparing food for breakfast. Once breakfast is over and all the residents are fed, I will immediately begin making lunch,” Peach said.

“I will begin meal prep and talk to the residents when I come through the door. They’ll let me know if they want something different than what I’m serving. I’ll also take special requests from time to time, such as turning something into puree or grinding food up for the resident to eat. I believe that I can make anything edible for the residents as long as I put the time in,” Cope mentioned.

What is your favorite part about your job?

“I love meeting the residents from Bath Creek Estates because I can put a name to a face. If someone comes in and makes a special request, I will take it upon myself to deliver the meal so I know who they are when they call. I want to be able to take special orders as they come, such as when the residents want something different for lunch or dinner. I will also make them a snack that they will like if a resident wants something more to eat that day,” Peach said.

“I love making the residents here at Cortland Healthcare happy. Sometimes, the dessert or snack that you serve them is the only thing that they’re looking forward to that day. Since I’ve been here so long, I can make the residents old fashioned desserts that a lot of the younger staff may not know how to bake. This can give the residents a taste of things that they used to enjoy,” Cope said.

What challenges do you face as a cook?

There are many different challenges that cooks in the healthcare industry face on a day-to-day basis. We asked Peach and Cope to discuss theirs.

For Peach, she said that of all the places she has worked, the meals for the resident diets are made with ingredients she isn’t as familiar with.

“For example, some places allow the residents to have bread, but at Bath Creek Estates we don’t get regular bread. This is hard to remember, and I have to keep track of different food combinations because certain diets use certain ingredients,” Peach said.

“Recently, one challenge our staff has been facing is shortages on certain food items due to the pandemic. For example, one day we might not get the bread that we need to come in. We have to get creative and still make something for the residents,” Cope said.

Cope mentioned that she is able to take ingredients and find a way to make the residents something tasty to eat. She said that she uses her talent for cooking to make sure that the residents always have nutritious food that is enjoyable to them.

How do you work to make meals for the residents based on religion, dietary needs, etc.?

Many of the residents at Saber Healthcare have specific dietary needs, such as being gluten-free, or practice a religion that prevents them from eating certain foods. We asked Peach and Cope how they cook for residents who need a special accommodation.

“We always have an alternate menu available for the residents,” Peach said. “For example, if someone can’t have pork because of their religion, we will make sure that there is another option for them listed on the menu.”

“We always make sure to honor people’s preferences, even if it’s pureed food. We believe that this is their home and that they should not be forced to eat something that goes against their beliefs. Each morning, the residents will fill out a sheet and I work to accommodate their needs. For the residents who can’t fill out the sheet, I always make sure that I know their needs so that way I can honor them,” Cope said.

What is your favorite meal to fix for the residents?

“Here at Bath Creek Estates, the residents absolutely love meatloaf whenever we make it,” Peach said.

“The desserts for the holidays. I always request to work the holidays because I enjoy it so much. For example, on Valentine’s Day we had red velvet cupcakes. On Christmas we went door-to-door serving cookies and cocoa,” Cope said.

If you have any health advice when it comes to food, what would it be?

Always make sure that you wash your hands, cook food to the proper temperatures, wear gloves, and never serve something that’s outdated,” Peach said.

“If you like a certain food, eat it in moderation. You don’t want to quit a food item completely cold turkey. Life is also short and you don’t need to give something up 100%,” Cope said.

Saber Healthcare Thanks our Cooks!

Here at Saber Healthcare, our cooks work each day to make delicious food that our residents will enjoy at meal time. We are thankful for the work that they put in each day to prepare foods that meet the residents’ nutritional needs while remaining tasty.

Our dietary teams are always looking to recruit people who love cooking and have a passion for helping others. If you’re interested in joining one of the dietary teams at a Saber building near you click here.

Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.