Open Dining About to Become a Reality in The Mayflower Community


The Mayflower Community (Grinnell, Iowa) is in the process of a $500,000 remodeling project to convert kitchens into fully-functioning preparation and serving facilities in the Health Center and in the independent living Buckley Dining Room.  The Beebe Assisted Living kitchen will be converted at a later date.  Currently, all hot and cold meals are prepared in the Buckley building kitchen and transported to the other campus serving kitchens.

Residents will enjoy made-to-order food, when they desire, chosen from a diverse, restaurant-style menu.  When complete, the two kitchens will be capable of serving an ala carte menu from 7:00am to 7:00pm, seven days a week.  For example, breakfast will be available all day.  A “Grab n’ Go” cooler will be located in the Health Center to make available scratch-prepared salads, sandwiches, and fruits to meet residents’ needs after hours.

In the Mayflower’s Health Center, this improvement will inspire a culture shift.  Choosing when to dine opens a door for residents to more fully direct their daily routine, including the timing of visitors, therapies, recreation, grooming, and bathing.  For example, visits with family members or friends will be enriched when they can share a meal at a time convenient for all.

Mayflower Executive Director, Steve Langerud, says, “Mayflower has always been about resident-centered care.  Giving residents control over their health, diet, and daily schedules enhances this approach to healthcare and senior living.  This is possible because of the expertise and customer-centered attitude of Scott Gruhn, our Director of Food Services.”

The Health Center renovations are expected to be completed by mid-March.  The Buckley Dining Room renovations will be finished by late April.  

Preparation for this upgrade has been in process since 2017, when the concept was first presented to Mayflower’s Board of Trustees by Scott.  He is looking forward to providing, “food choices with high-quality natural, fresh, and fresh-frozen ingredients.  This will overcome the traditional senior living regimented meal times that have limited menu offerings.”

Working with Mayflower’s registered dietician, Peg Ehler, RD, Scott has shared with local medical professionals the ability to provide “real foods first,” versus “manufactured supplements by making custom shakes and smoothies.”  This is intended to maintain health and enhance healing.

Minimal staffing expansion will be necessary, and staff will have the opportunity to expand their skills and responsibilities. Food waste is expected to be reduced by 5% to 10%, as only meals ordered will be prepared.

Friends of the not-for-profit Mayflower have contributed 100% of the cost of the project.  180 individuals and companies provided support for this project.  Fundraising for the Beebe Assisted Living kitchen development will begin soon.