CURWENSVILLE – The culinary team that prepares Meals on Wheels for Mature Resources Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging consumers is truly a five-star crew.
In addition to surpassing requirements for mandatory state health inspections, an independent health and safety inspector has also given the staff and the kitchen a five-star review, the highest rating available, and the very first one awarded to any kitchen within their company’s service region.
The AAA contracts with Morrison Living, an international food service provider, to supply the meals for Meals on Wheels and More.
The six-person crew works in a kitchen located at the AAA’s Curwensville Office preparing hand-made meals from fresh ingredients each day for up to 900 Meals on Wheels consumers.
The independent, third-party inspection was performed by UL Everclean Food Safety and Hygiene Solutions in September.
Chef Michael Finch, who oversees the Curwensville kitchen, explained, “State health inspections are required, but these independent inspections are not.
“Morrison takes it upon themselves to have these inspections done because the company takes sanitation, food safety, and the health of our clients very seriously.”
Finch said his regional vice president told him this is the very first five-star inspection they’ve ever had out of 18 sites in the region.
“It shows we’re a very, very clean and safe operation, and it’s really a tribute to the hard work of my staff. It reflects on everything they do, from food handling, to storage, safety, cleaning, refrigeration temperatures, just everything.”
Finch said he builds menus for the program by the month, and orders fresh ingredients weekly, providing quality, nutritional meals for consumers.
He said his kitchen is unique in that it supplies a Meals on Wheels program, where most of Morrison Living’s sites serve plated meals in a cafeteria setting at places like assisted living communities.
So, not only are the meals prepared fresh, they also must be packaged and sealed, a task staff completes with an Oliver machine.
The specialized piece of equipment seals the food in disposable trays with a protective and sanitary plastic barrier, so that they can be safely transported by Meals on Wheels drivers who keep the food warm with dedicated mobile ovens in their vans.
“When you’re looking at basically five or six people getting all of that done for 800 or 900 people every day, getting it done on time, and still keeping things clean and safe, that’s saying a lot,” Finch said of his staff.
The kitchen crew starts their workday at 3 a.m. and has the full complement of meals ready to be loaded into the delivery vans by 9:30 a.m.
In all, the inspection covered 60 specific categories going far beyond sanitation, and measuring compliance on safety regulations like non-slip flooring, safely secured storage shelving, and assuring there is a properly functioning eye-wash station. The kitchen met or exceeded expectations in every category.
Clearfield County AAA Chief Executive Officer Kathleen Gillespie said, “Chef Michael and the entire kitchen staff embody the mission of the Area Agency on Aging to provide the highest quality services to our seniors.
“The is no better indicator of the high level of quality in food service they offer than this inspection report, which is as spotless as their kitchen.
“Not only are they running a clean, safe, and efficient operation, but our consumers consistently tell us how delicious the meals are. We are grateful to partner with Morrison Living to provide nutritious, hot meals to residents of Clearfield County.”
The Meals on Wheels and More program began in Clearfield County in 1983 with the Clearfield Rotary Club, the owners of Clearfield and DuBois Dairy Queens and the CCAAA.
The program is entirely funded by local donations.
For more information, or to find out how you can support the Meals on Wheels and Blizzard Box programs, call 814-765-2696, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.