An Innovative Meal Program


With iPads and personalized service, Columbia Basin Care is reducing food waste, increasing meal satisfaction, and leading the way with an innovative nutrition management program.

Columbia Basin Care, a community-owned, nonprofit care center in The Dalles, is the first skilled nursing facility in the Pacific Northwest to implement MatrixCare MealTracker, a meal management software program. The change has brought dramatic change to a business providing over 200 meals a day. Implemented just a few months ago, Columbia Basin is saving time and money and, most importantly, boosting happiness among both residents and staff.

Behind the scenes, MealTracker works as a valuable tool for efficient and accurate management of dietary information, such as food consistency and preferences, recipe scaling, nutrition analysis, and cost analysis. Using this comprehensive data, residents enjoy meals that accurately reflect their specific nutritional needs and preferences.

tristan-takes-orderIn the “front of the house,” residents of Columbia Basin Care place their orders with Room Service Assistants who go room-to-room with iPads in hand, cheerfully presenting meal choices and suggestions. This one-to-one approach allows for questions and special requests. The Room Service team delivers meals directly to each resident, ensuring meals are hot, on-time, and accurate.

For the kitchen, the new program “takes the guess work out of food orders,” says Joe Fischer, Food Service Director. “In the past, routine orders were not accurate. Now we know each and every meal down to the ounce. We’re getting the residents what they want: hot food, on time.”

“With the personalized attention, we’re able to provide information on healthy food choices and quantity education,” he adds. “We now have more people eating, and eating better.”

An increased focus on accuracy is substantially reducing food waste and costs, he says. “We used to make 30 pots of coffee each day, that’s 365 cups, or five cups of coffee per person daily. Most of that coffee was not consumed,” he says. “It’s incredible the waste we’re eliminating.”

The savings is now re-directed to better quality food and the creation of new menus with increased resident input.

MealTracker has created a dynamic shift among staff, too. Previously, CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) were responsible for taking orders and delivering meals. Fischer, who started his career as a CNA, knows the valuable time this takes from nursing care. “CNAs are not waitresses. We want to take the load off CNAs,” he says. “Our goal is to have the kitchen take care of all food service.”

“It’s great,” says Sara Sullivan, CNA. “Now everything runs more smoothly and we have time to provide more direct care.”