Living with a developmental disability affects many aspects of everyday life, including meals. Oftentimes, special diets, food textures and adaptive mealtime equipment are necessary. The Nutrition team at Ann Storck Center (ASC) serves nearly 250 meals every day. They deliver food from the kitchen to residents, preschool students and Adult Day Training (ADT) participants, all with careful consideration to individualized needs.
Carol Bowen has been the Director of Nutrition Services at Ann Storck Center for nearly 35 years, and in that time she’s built a system that focuses on the individual diets of every child and adult.
“This is a team effort,” Carol said. “Everyone here plays an important role, many going above and beyond to accommodate our individuals and help meal times run smoothly.”
There’s a number of dietary concerns the nutrition team pays careful attention to. Aside from food preferences, many individuals have allergies, reflux or other gastric issues. One accommodation is a separate anti-reflux meal made without ingredients such as acidic foods or fat. Other dietary orders may include instructions for thickened fluids, or they prohibit gas-forming foods like beans and broccoli. These are just a few examples of the intricacies of Nutrition at ASC.
Her team regularly collaborates with occupational therapists, speech therapists, teachers and staff to make sure meals are eaten and enjoyed as independently as possible. One example of Carol’s attention to detail are the Mealtime Procedure Sheets used in ADT and the residential facilities, one for every place setting.
“These Mealtime Procedure Sheets are our way of letting the individuals communicate their needs and preferences to whoever’s helping them at mealtime,” Carol explains. “This sheet includes information about diet, adaptive equipment and food texture, but also lists favorite foods and instruction for eating and drinking.”
Different diet textures range from bite sized to puree with three textures in-between. All meals are prepared in every texture as needed. There’s a wide range of adaptive equipment to help individuals feed themselves independently. It could be a high-sided plate for better scooping, or a cut-out cup so drinking doesn’t involve bending the neck or tilting the head.
“Every individual at Ann Storck Center has a team that ensures their needs are met, down to every snack, and we’re just one part of that large team,” said Carol.