Sunday, December 4, 2011

Food and Nutrition Management: Where Food and Community Meet

“I learned an enormous amount about different diets and health issues concerning healthcare food service, as well as kitchen skills and different cooking techniques. This is an excellent program to take if you would like to work in the health care food service industry,” says Catrina Evans a graduate of the Food Service program at Centennial College in Toronto, Ont.

Developed to meet the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Standards and Criteria with input from professional organizations and healthcare employers, students of this one-semester program benefit from a learning experience that meets current government standards and employer requirements. Those interested in applying for this food service program, which also includes Food and Nutrition Management aspects, must present at minimum an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent or be 19 years of age or older. English proficiency will also be considered. However, possession of minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission to program.

Delivered over a three-day week to accommodate student needs, the courses within the food service program cover the practical aspects of quantity food preparation, service, basic and therapeutic nutrition and sanitation practices. Also covered are quality customer service, effective communications and quality assurance. Specific courses within the undertaking include: Role of Food Service Worker, Workplace Communications, Sanitation and Safety, Nutrition and Health Care, Kitchen Equipment and Food Preparation and Food Service Worker Placement. The courses are presented in a lecture format. To supplement the in-school learning, students also participate in a work experience field placement in a healthcare facility. The placement allows them to apply classroom learning in a true work situation. However, before students can go on their placement, they must have a mandatory two-step mantoux test (TB skin test) within 12 months of starting the program, even if they have had BCG, as well as influenza immunization and a vulnerable persons police check.

Among the skills students graduate with are: the ability to communicate the role of nutrition and apply the principles of human nutrition to food production in the health care food service environment; discuss the standards and principles of diet therapy relating to a variety of illnesses and diseases and apply these principles to the assembly of therapeutic meals in the health care food service environment; provide a safe and health dietary environment, including food that is free from bacteria and other harmful contaminants by adhering to government and departmental regulations relating to food safety, and injury and hazard prevention strategies; carry out cost control techniques in the preparation of foodservice in the healthcare environment; implement cooking principles and techniques in the preparation of large quantities of various foods for the healthcare environment and more.

Students in the Food Service Program may also use the knowledge and skills they gain to transfer into the two-year Food and Nutrition Management diploma program if desired. Upon graduation, students obtain positions in long-term care, retirement, acute care and with food service contractors. This certificate is a requirement to work as a food service worker in long-term care as well as an asset to work in other healthcare food service industries.

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