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Resident-Focused Dining: How The Hearth At Drexel Enhances the Senior Dining Experience

June 25, 2024

Meet Chris Morris, the Dining Director at The Hearth at Drexel

Kylie Hood, Director of Sales & Marketing, and Chris Morris, Director of Dining Services

Chris Morris is the Dining Director at The Hearth at Drexel, an elegant Assisted Living and Memory Care community, situated a few miles northwest of Center City Philadelphia, in Bala Cynwyd, PA. He brings twenty-two yearsmanagerial experience in Senior Living Hospitality field. Chris has worked for Sodexo Services during that time with a focus on fine dining, meal planning, preparation and customer service. As The Hearth at Drexel is a smaller community, Chris is able to personally meet with residents in their apartments to learn what they like to eat and what favorite meal ideas they have for the future.

Personalized Dining Experiences for Residents

Chris says, “The size of our community allows me to talk directly with the residents and family about what they enjoy about their meals. This allows us to be flexible with the needs of residents when they first arrive at The Hearth and also meet their needs as their care changes. Our menus change every day to allow for as many preferences as possible and our “Always Available” menu is robust. I’m always open to ideas that come directly from our residents. I’d rather hear what the residents want to see on the menu, and we have a Food Committee each month so that all residents can have input. Nothing is off the table; we can try anything that we think will work for our community.”

charcuterie boardA great deal of thought goes into designing multiple daily menu options for 80 residents living in four different Households at The Hearth. Chris is responsible for creating menu choices for three meals a day, plus snacks, and catering activities in between meals.

“Our menu changes on a daily basis, but our dinner menu always offers two hot entrees, two veggies – one steamed and one roasted- and always two starches. The starches range from potatoes and pasta to grains such as couscous and quinoa. Our always available lunch and dinner menu provides additional entrée options, such as salmon filet or roasted chicken breast,” according to Chris.

He adds, “While we are focused on providing a variety of choices for healthy, balanced, tasty, attractive and satisfying meals, we also keep in mind the varied tastes, interests and dietary needs of the senior resident clientele. As our residents age in place, their needs can change and we need to be mindful and flexible with those needs as they arise. We like to combine familiar favorites the residents have enjoyed for years at home with new recipes and menu items, to keep the experience fresh, interesting, and appealing for all to enjoy.”

Seasonal Dishes and Holiday Traditions

Chris explains, “We’re also continuously aware of seasonal or holiday traditions to observe, and food for special events to be included. “We have a large Passover meal each year that is well-attended by all residents which involves our entire community including our staff,” says Chris.

During the holidays, more specialty baked goods appear on the menu, from cookies to pies and cakes and other goodies. In spring and summer, Chris includes more seasonal fresh vegetable dishes that residents like, such as corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, and watermelon treats that recall the kinds of summer delights they have enjoyed at home in the past.

Community Events and Special Menus

Chris and The Hearth team also devote time to planning The Hearth Annual Resident & Family Picnic every fall. The team enjoys coming up with specialty themed food events that the residents and their families will enjoy together buffet style. Last fall, during the Resident & Family Picnic on a Saturday in October, Philly-themed favorites that one would find at a Phillies Baseball or Eagles Football game dominated the picnic menu for that festive day.

For more information about The Hearth at Drexel, Click Here.