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Flexible meal plans offer options for every palate

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October 23rd, 2012

People living at Linden Ponds, the Erickson Living community in Hingham, Mass., have access to four restaurants and more than 60 entr e options a day. We have a lot of choice here if people choose to use it, says Jean Whelan, who lives at Linden Ponds and recently completed her term as the resident advisory council liaison to dining services. This month, Jean and the rest of the Linden Ponds community will see their options expand with the switch to flexible meal plans. Previously, one meal a day was included in the monthly service package purchased by those who live at Linden Ponds. But now, with this month s rollout of the new flex plan, community members have two meal plan options: The 20-meal plan, offering a fixed number of meals that can be used at any time during the month and for guests; and The monthly plan, with one meal for each day of the month that can also be used at any time during the month and for guests. The 20-meal plan offers a cost savings, particularly for people who don t utilize all 30 meals a month. Those who choose that plan will receive a $60 monthly credit to their service fee. Many incoming residents want that choice, as many travel a lot, still work full- or part-time, and want that flexibility, says Christine Hansen, sales director at Linden Ponds.

Fulfilled goal

The new flexible plans have been in the works throughout Erickson Living communities for the past few years. A goal has been fulfilled, says Tomas (Omar) Gonzalez, director of dining services at Linden Ponds. As an eight-year resident of Linden Ponds, Lois Guiness is a pioneer in the community. She says the community s dining experience has improved over the years. It s very good, she says, adding that she intends to stick with the monthly plan because, I don t cook, and I don t eat out that much. People who choose the monthly plan will have a plan similar to what they had before but with the added option of using the 30-or-so meals at any time even multiple times a day and for guests. People living in the community can change their meal plan quarterly, particularly if they know ahead of time that they will be spending more time out of town, for example, if they head south during the winter months. If residents have unused meal credits when they leave for a short trip, they ll return that month to the remaining credits. You think, I don t have any food in the fridge. Now you don t have to worry about it, Gonzalez says.

Responsive dining experience

The new meal plan options reflect an organization-wide response to feedback from people living in Erickson Living communities. Jean says that a culture of customer service permeates dining services at Linden Ponds. The dining staff is very responsive to the comments of the residents, she says. Comment cards are available in all the restaurants, and all comments are reviewed. While the comments are often positive, any negative comments that can be fixed are sent to the dining services liaison and highlighted for further review. They take residents concerns quite seriously, Jean adds. The resident advisory council liaison is part of a resident-run dining services committee, which meets with staff and shares information and ideas for improving the dining experience. This year, the dining staff added the option of brown rice in addition to white, as requested by residents. Healthy meal options are also a priority for dining services at Linden Ponds. Every day, nutritional information is available for each meal option at the Overlook and Fireside restaurants. Residents can view the options online at mynutrition.erickson.com before choosing their dining destination. I think I ve probably never eaten so healthy in my life, Jean says.

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