Food in CPPS Today

The Sisters of the Precious Blood have been an influence in my life since 1969. My first after-school job was making trays for the Emma Hall sisters. We worked in the central kitchen where we provided meals for what at that time was a larger order of Sisters.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with Sisters Nancy Raley, Xavier Schnipke, Theresa Rizzo, Dorothy Koenig, Ritamary Bulach, Armella Schoenlein, Jane Wermes and others in the dietary line of work. I was inspired by the dietetics, the food production and all that it encompasses. Sister Nancy Raley, then my boss and dietitian, was one of the Sisters who influenced me to pursue food service, nutrition and management in this field. My training began with Sister Verlina Mescher who was a wonderful mentor and teacher of cooking and baking.

And 50 years later here we are, all showing a little wear and tear, and our roles have changed. Now a team of food service workers and myself have the honor of providing the nutrition and food service for the Sisters at Salem Heights. We provide nutritional and appealing meals every day, three times daily, and strive to meet the needs of all Sisters. In a typical 4-week menu cycle, we prepare a variety of 21 homemade soups. We have a reputation for our ice cream buffet each Wednesday. Breakfast occasionally will be an omelet bar where we make omelets to order. Dinner is the largest meal of the day. This is a time of choices of entrees, salad bar, choices of vegetables and fresh fruit, and the occasional home-baked pies and cakes. This is where all Sisters and staff leave their work and enjoy a time of sustenance, comfort and community. Our suppers offer homemade soups, entrees and nutritious choices for all.

The Sisters’ many nutritional needs are met by a team of devoted dietary staff. Our lead chef, Elton Benson, has wowed us daily with his culinary skills for 21 years. Mark Reno is stepping into a cook’s position after years of tutelage from Elton and has earned his certification in food service. Our baker/cook Lumen Johnson is an artist with food. Our evening cooks know just the seasoning and flavor the Sisters enjoy. I am told often how much they enjoy Lori’s soups and Roshell’s entree plates. Each dietary employee is devoted to serving and caring for the Sisters.

Our utility staff serve with smiling faces and usually know which beverage a Sister will ask for, and where they might choose to sit for meals.

The Sisters thank us daily for the work we do. From the dietary director, lead chef and utility staff, we say thank you to the Sisters of the Precious Blood — we serve you with happy hearts.

Story by Brenda Gabbard

Top, food service director Brenda Gabbard; middle, lead chef Elton Benson; bottom, baker/cook Lumen Johnson; Michelle Bodine photos.

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