(July 12, 2017) – Morning Pointe Senior Living announces its new latest initiative aimed at making mealtime memorable for residents through locally grown, farm-fresh vegetables and fruits. The new dining services program will emphasize regionally grown produce for Morning Pointe communities through partnerships with farmers near Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville, TN, and Lexington, KY.

– Crabtree Farms will serve Morning Pointe locations based in the Chattanooga, TN area.
– Delvin Farms, based in College Grove, TN, will serve Maury and Williamson counties.
– 2 Chicks and a Farm and Garden Delivery CSA will supply goods to senior communities in Knoxville, TN.
– Crooked Row Farm, based in Lexington, KY, will be the provider in Lexington, Louisville and Frankfort.

“We are proud to not only offer delicious and nutritious meals, but also local ingredients that reminds our seniors of life on the farm or homestead,” says Mike Woods, corporate dining director at Morning Pointe.

From late Summer through mid-Fall, food services directors will order in-season local produce to be put on every plate, incorporating the ingredients throughout the day’s meals as well as the “always available” menu.

“Every plate could have a locally grown product,” Woods says. “Through this program, we can easily serve 20 to 30 percent of our menu with ingredients from local farms.”

Morning Pointe has been building relationships with local farmers and growers for several years to implement the new program in its 28 senior living locations.

“We are proud to announce this initiative that brings the dining experience closer to home for our residents, while planting the seed to grow new partnerships in the communities we serve,” says Greg A. Vital, president and CEO of Morning Pointe. “From preparation to presentation, our dining services program prepares each dish with foods that are both flavorful and healthy – and now locally grown – to ensure mealtime is something our seniors continue to enjoy.”

Morning Pointe’s food service directors were prepped for the new initiative with a daylong educational seminar in Knoxville, led by Jen Russomanno, co-owner and operator of 2 Chicks and a Farm and Garden Delivery CSA.

The Jefferson County-based farm, which specializes in organic, naturally grown produce, has partnered with Morning Pointe’s assisted living and memory care communities in the Knoxville area. Russomanno says that buying local is especially beneficial for seniors.

“For our seniors, many times, they are suffering from chronic illness, or have weakened immune systems,” Russomanno says. “Feeding them fresh, local, chemical-free food will contribute positively to their health and long-term well-being.”

According to the USDA, consuming fresh fruits and vegetables are beneficial to both shoppers and farmers, not only because the food is higher in nutrient and antioxidant value, but also because buying fresh, in-season produce boasts economic benefits by keeping dollars local. But the notion to eat locally is nothing new to the seniors, who tended to gardens and grew fruits and vegetables of their own.

Bruce Fisher, senior food services director at Morning Pointe of Lexington-East (KY), says the residents at his community are given opportunities to assist with the preparation of their meals, from snapping beans to shucking corn.

“Mealtime to this generation is still an event,” Fisher says, recalling his own Southern family traditions. “It’s a social hour. If you were hungry or not, you were at that dinner table.”
Dining services is a part of The Lantern at Morning Pointe’s purposeful programming, and Fisher and Woods agree that fresh food is effective in recalling the seniors’ positive life experiences.

“Food can be a very powerful tool to stimulate past memories,” Fisher says. “If you cook something and they remember something like, ‘My wife used to cook chicken and dumplings,’ it’s just like that. It goes back to the Meaningful Day™ where you cooking food that our residents used to eat, and prepare it the way they used to prepare it.”

Taking the “farm to fork” initiative a step further, Fisher says the Morning Pointe communities in Kentucky are participating in the Kentucky Proud movement, an initiative that grants rebates to consumers and organizations for buying local. Woods says the benefits of buying local are numerous and even economically beneficial, while reducing fuel costs from the transport of produce from states like California.

The farm to table initiative is currently in place, and will be a model for Morning Pointe’s new senior campuses moving forward.

“With this program, we’re going back to our roots,” says Vital. “We want to show importance to our residents traditions and values by bringing this wholesome dining experience to the table.”