Elder Care Section: Health Is on the Menu

ALP Nutritionist 001

Dietician plays an important role for seniors in Assisted Living

Leslie Rosen has been with the Jennings Hall Assisted Living Program (ALP) since before it began.  The crew who were installing special equipment at the center recommended her when they heard they were looking for a dietician. A respected professional in the field for over thirty years, she was hired and went to work composing the diet manual and policy and procedure manual.

The three-week cycle of menus Rosen created has no repeats except for breakfast. There is one selection for each meal, and there is an alternate meal available. So a resident can put in a request a week ahead of time for a substitution. Jennings Hall has two congregate meals (breakfast and lunch), a daily snack, and dinner is plated in advance and chilled.  The Personal Care Attendants bring the meals to each apartment with reheating instructions.

“The staff will check in the next day. They will also head off any food issues that could occur, by making sure no one leaves milk out on the counter for too long,” says Rosen. “The client has freedom to eat what they want. We don’t encourage this; we want people to be healthy.”

If unhealthy extracurricular eating habits are having a bad effect on a client’s health, Rosen will counsel them to be more vigilant about their diet. She’ll say something like, “This isn’t good for you. This will increase your blood pressure, etc.”

Rosen meets with each individual resident when they first come into ALP to make an assessment that will be applied to their menu plan. She’ll have an additional consultation if a client develops a condition where their diet would need to be altered.

Rosen’s specialty is coming up with menus that appeal to multicultural diners, especially those in the Latino, African American, and Caribbean communities. She is very accommodating to the consumer. Many factors go into planning the menu for the ALP residents. Each resident has their own diet card, which includes their food preference, any dietary specifications, allergies, etc. The menus are sent to the State Department of Health and deemed nutritionally sound. Rosen takes the cultural heritage of the neighborhood in to consideration, and what equipment the center has to work with when creating her menus. In writing the recipes, she cross-references at least four established sources to gage nutritional content, and portion sizes are standardized and measured. No additional salt or sugar is added.

There are also festive meals served on holidays and once a quarter they order Chinese take-out.  A pizza night has been requested, and they are looking into the possibility.

If you are curious and would like to try one of the menu items for yourself here is a recipe for Fish Cakes. They are one of the more popular dinners at the center and it has been on the menu from the beginning.

cod 001

Jennings Hall ALP Fish Cakes

Serves: 5

Serving Size: 3 oz.


1 ¼ lbs Cod fillet, cubed

3 medium potatoes, peeled and halved

2 ¼ teaspoons butter

2 ¼ teaspoons grated onion

2 ¼ teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

1 egg

2 ½ Tablespoon vegetable oil


  • Place potatoes in a pot of water, bring to boil, cook until tender
  • Add fish to potatoes, cook until soft
  • Drain fish and potatoes, transfer to large mixing bowl.
  • Add butter, onion, parsley, and egg to the bowl. Mash the mixture.
  • Divide into 5 equal portions and mold each into patties
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  • Fry the patties on both sides until golden brown
  • Drain on a paper towel before serving.

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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