Delicious recipe From the AHF-NJ Annual Seminar

Click here for this recipe.  Plus, learn about ways to elevate this classic meal!  Yumm!


Save the Date

Annual Seminar for Food & Nutrition Professionals

Save the date

November 16th, 2017





AHF NJ is in the NEWS! Great Article!

NJ Chapter Grabs Top Honors At AHF National Conference In DC

AHF National Conference
The AHF New Jersey Chapter receives the first-ever AHF Chapter of the Year Award. From left are: Robert Darrah, AHF Award Committee Co-chair; Joanne McMillian, AHF Treasurer and New Jersey Chapter member; Angela O’Neill, New Jersey Chapter President Elect; Gary Triolo, New Jersey Chapter President; and Mary Angela Miller, AHF Award Committee Co-chair

The Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF) held its eighth Annual Conference, last month, at The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland (outside of Washington, D.C.).

It was a highly successful confab for Tri-State delegations as the New Jersey chapter won top honors as the AHF national chapter of the year.

The Garden State chapter under the guidance of its president Gary Triolo has long been known in local and national circles for the quality and passion of its membership. “Tony Almeida of Robert Wood Johnson and Betty Perez really set the standard for our members early on,” noted Triolo.  The foodservice executive was quick to credit board member Angela O’Neil of the Hunterdon Medical Center with championing the New Jersey chapter’s bid for the annual award.

“She did a great job of profiling our group’s dedication to giving back to the communities we serve.”

Highlighting AHF New Jersey’s annual calendar is the association’s annual full day Fall conference.  The group makes an annual gift of the event’s fees to the Food Bank of New Jersey. Those donations have grown to as much as $5000 to feed the hungry in the Garden State. Prior to that program AHF-NY sponsored a toy drive so that young children in the state would enjoy a Merry Christmas. Under Triolo’s leadership, the group  has continued its commitment to support the national association’s scholarship initiatives.

“I’m convinced that the work we do as a group reflects many of the characteristics of our responsibilities at our facilities,” Triolo continued. “We are part of the puzzle in which the patient and their family know that we are providing healthy, nutritious and tasty food to contribute to their caregiving and healing.”

In addition to accepting national honors, New Jersey’s healthcare foodservice professionals had busy agendas for their annual national conference. “Education, networking and monitoring are key components,” noted Triolo.

The conference featured a wide diversity of educational seminars from branding to salt free cooking as well as benchmarking and a moving piece on motivating employees with Colonel Joe Ricciardi, PhD. The army veteran spoke on how The Brave Lead with Love, and detailed his approach to leading a team of over 1000 Soldiers to Afghanistan.

“The modernization of our industry truly means Healthcare Foodservice Reimagined,” said Julie Jones, AHF President and Director of Nutrition Services at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “At this year’s conference, we were able to explore the abundance of new opportunities and innovative models for delivering delicious, healthy food options in our communities.”

Formed in 2009, the Association for Healthcare Foodservice is composed of food and nutrition professionals from facilities that are self-operated. AHF advances the foodservice and hospitality industry in all healthcare segments by enabling its operator members to grow through continuing education, networking opportunities, annual conference, and innovative equipment and service through our business partners. AHF advocates for and supports its members to create best practice, while connecting the leaders that advance the industry.

To learn more about the AHF, please visit their website.







Breaking News!

Just in!

AHF National has recognized as AHF NJ as Chapter of the Year!

This is the first time that AHF has ever given this recognition!

Congratulations to Gary and the entire Board!

Stay tuned for more information.

Joanne McMillian Receives AHF Presidential Service Award

At the recent August 2017 AHF Annual Conference, Joanne McMillian was recognized for all of the work she does supporting AHF.

Currently, Joanne is on the AHF Board and is Treasurer.








Cell Phones While Working Guidelines

News from the Director’s Forum

On February 23, 2017, twenty directors and managers met for a morning of sharing and learning.

One topic that came up was the development of guidelines for the use of cell phones at work.  Angela O’Neil was kind enough to share what she had developed for Hunterdon Medical Center.



Congratulations Newly Elected GNJSHFSA Board Members

Newly Election GNJSHFSA Board Members

To our GNJSHFSA members and Vendor Partners ~ It is with great pleasure I’d like to introduce our 2017 Board of Directors!  Congratulations to board operators

  • Lynda Carpenito
  • Joanne McMillian
  • Amir Kamal
  • Steven Hodgins
  • Heather Duffy

They will be joining current operators Gary Triolo, incoming president; Debra Ryan, past president; Angela O’neill, Betty Perez, and Michael Atanasio.

Along with Congratulations to our Allied officers Michael Buoncristiano, Keith Fitzgerald, and Bernie Mulholland who will be joining our current allied officers, Sharon Sachenski and Marsha Diamond.

A huge thank you to all those that ran for the board this year!  We appreciate your support to the Organization.

Looking forward to an amazing 2017 together!

With warm regards,

Debra Ryan
GNJSHFSA President

Collaborate, Transform, Thrive




The Greater New Jersey Society for Healthcare Food Service Administrators, the  AHF – NJ Chapter,  held their Annual Educational Conference titled “Collaborate, Transform, Thrive” on November 17th.

The program was a full day event with great presentations and speakers throughout the day as well as a Food and Supply Show from 12 noon to 1:30 pm.

The day opened with introductions from the Chapter President, Debra Ryan, who then handed the program over the President Elect, Gary Triolo who had the key role in planning and coordinating the day’s event. The entire Board is very engaged and involved, and each member assists by taking a part to handle the many needs and responsibilities to run the program.

The titles of the presentations were – Tired to Inspired, The Balancing Act – Work, Life, Balance, Spice up your Kitchen – that included a live cooking demonstration, and Social Media and Marketing Boot Camp.

The Food and Supply Show – we average about 45 vendors that attend our event. Each vendor and our “Vendor Partners” are a huge support to the organization. We value these relationships tremendously.  And, the show is a great success year over year.

The final presentation of the day was led by Bruce Degn, AHF Executive Director and Kent Hamaker, AHF Director of Education, Communications, and Benchmarking. The Chapter was so appreciative of them both attending and presenting on a local chapter level. It showed great support and commitment from the AHF corporate team and the presentation was outstanding.

The NJ annual educational conference is a major focal point on the yearly calendar for the chapter.  The attendee list and participation is excellent and provides a great value to operators bringing a high caliber program to NJ for their teams,  and the conference offers  7 Credits with the AND, ANFP, and the ACF .
















An Interview with Angela O’Neill



After growing up waitressing in hotels and restaurants, Angela O’Neill got her BS in nutrition and worked in Veteran’s Affairs hospitals in Chicago and Albany. This was the beginning of a long and impressive career in foodservices and nutrition and a position as the Director of Nutrition Services at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, New Jersey since 2006. Additionally Mrs. O’Neill served as the President of the Greater New Jersey Society for Food Service Administrators and currently sits on the board. Here we speak with her about all aspects of healthcare dining and how they have changed in her 24 years at Hunterdon.

What career path did you take to your current position at Hunterdon?

I got into dietetics because I had a background in food service. Also in college being athletic and into the healthy side of things I decided to go back to school for it.

I have been a registered Dietician since 1991. I started here at Hunterdon as a dietician in 1992, then moved to c-manager of our department, then Assistant Director, and in 2006 I was promoted to the Director of the department which oversees patient services. Additionally, clinical services are under my umbrella. We do daycare meals and we opened a cafe at our wellness center last year.

What was your education before you began at Hunterdon?

I had a bachelor’s degree and went back to school and got two more years in Nutrition. So I have a BS in nutrition and I did my internship at a Veteran’s Affairs hospital in Chicago then my first job was at a VA hospital in Albany, New York.

How have the dieting needs of your patients evolved over your 24 years at the same facility?

We had the old style menu where patients would select what they needed to eat for the next day. When i saw the room service model come out at a national conference in the early 2000s, I really grabbed hold of that. We first instituted it on our maternity unit and by 2009 we had instituted room service. It fits our patient needs so much better because they eat when they want.

The expectations of the patients nowadays are different. I think the generations coming up now eat out more and are looking for foods that they enjoy instead of just comfort food.

How do you build your team of employees and what type of worker succeeds in your culture?

I look for the passion in food service and health because those that are passionate will get the big picture and understand what we need to do as a team.

We look for caring enthusiastic staff. We have many generations in my department, from 16 all the way through 80 and there are many different cultures. We can train for specific skills but you can train for people skills.

What are you doing to attract that younger demographic, say 16-30, to healthcare dining?

We take diet tech students from a local community college and we also take Dietetic interns from Saint Elizabeth College and some others.

How do all the different groups, dietitians, medical and nutrition, all work together? What makes it successful?

Being on the ground level and being among my employees is important to me. My core team has been here for many years and well respect each other and have a really good working relationship. I have managers that have been here 25 years. You’ve really bonded with those people and when you get to know and embrace your staff it does help.

There is a lot of pressure to serve farm to table in restaurants. Is this realistic in a medical center environment?

We do buy produce from a local New Jersey company but we don’t advertise farm to table or anything like that. The quantity and cost of buying everything local can be prohibitive.

What role do your food and beverage vendors play in your success and how do you source your products?

Five or six years ago we switched from Cisco to US food because of a cost saving initiative within the company. other than that we don’t change a lot, but when there is a cost savings we may ask someone to provide us with an RFP (Request for Proposal).

What is your approach to kitchens at Hunterdon?

The organization opened in the 1950s and I believe the kitchen is the same as when the placed open. However as we have received new equipment we have made changes to make it a more functional space.

I involve the staff in changes because to me that is important. When we brought in a new girl recently we worked with them and said “well where do you want to put it?”.

In addition to the grill, what other recent renovations have you made?

We put in a new oven to make pizzas because we now do pizza day once a week and they fly out of the kitchen so we needed new oven space. Also we did the new cafe at our wellness center last year. In the future we are renovating our cafeteria in 2017.

Thanks for the knowledge and updates!



An Interview with Debra Ryan

Debra_Ryan_care OneDebra Ryan‘s passion for nutrition comes out of her own struggle with food allergies and limitations and a desire to give back and help people with similar restrictions.

She started off her career working for Sodexo as a dietary technician and when a trayline supervisor position opened up, Debra got her first taste of management experience. From there on out she has held a variety of management jobs in Patient Services, Retail, Catering and later advanced onto Assistant director positions. Now she is one year into her position as Director of Nutrition at Care One of Woodcrest, a long term care facility in New Milford, New Jersey.

While working hard to keep Woodcrest running smoothly, Debra Ryan serves as President of the Greater New Jersey Society for Healthcare Food Service Administrators (GNJSHFSA), a state chapter of the national level Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF). We spoke with her about her career path, what its like in a long term care facility and a myriad of other topics regarding healthcare food service.

What were you doing before Woodcrest? What brought you there?

My career advanced from a contract based company to self operated Organization after about ten years of contract experience. Then after working eight years as an Assistant Director at a self operated facility, due to restructuring, my position was eliminated. Within a month, I was fortunate to be hired into my current position as Director of Nutrition at Care One of Woodcrest.

Shifting my career path from acute care to long term care and moving up to a Director’s position where everything relies on you was something I was not acquainted to, however, having had several years of diverse management experience facilitated a seamless transition.

How has long term care dining evolved?

In a nutshell, the views of a long term care facility’s dining services had been institutional ~ mainly to provide sustenance that met the nutritional needs of the residents. It has now evolved to not only provide meals that adhere to guidelines but also to provide the highest quality of food and presentation while serving the meals to the residents.

Our residents have had opportunities to enhance their palates by experiencing different cuisines of the world so their expectations are now much higher. I’m very proud to see where we are now compared to where we were.

Menu wise there is a lot of pressure to serve “farm to table” style and local produce. Is this realistic for a facility such as Woodcrest?

Yes and no. We have certain vendors that we are required to use and order guides that we are authorized to order from. We do have a local produce company that we use to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

How are you able to serve residents with specific restrictions or preferences?

By being creative and thinking out of the box to exceed expectations. For example we had an Indian resident with very specific dietary restrictions and cultural preferences. It was a challenge and something we had not done before but we were able to formulate different recipes for this resident.

We created his meals individually and every time we served him there was such sincere gratitude and appreciation that we went above and beyond.

How do you choose your vendors? Is it based on price or do you have specific vendors you always go to?

There are specific approved vendors that we are assigned to use at our facility. We have very little autonomy in our vendor selection.

How about kitchen equipment? Is it the same process?

We have an approved list of vendors to choose from and then we are required to get three different quotes from them for the same item. Whichever company offers the best deal is the one that we go with.

Have you done any renovations in the kitchen or do you have anything planned?

It is a great expense but we would like renovate our kitchen flooring. For now, with some creativity, we sanded and repainted to make it slip resistant and presentable but are hoping to modernize it in the near future.

What is your approach to building your team at Woodcrest?

I truly believe you have to lead by example. You can’t build a team if you aren’t a part of it. I am very hands on and adhere to the same expectations I have for my staff. I also believe in getting my staff involved in decision making to encourage ownership of the new ideas and processes. They’re my lifeline, it is a team effort to be successful. If something is not working, we work together to fix it.

How are you attracting the young, millennial generation of professionals to your facility?

Currently, my night staff is primarily made up of millennials. The way I approach it, is to make them cognizant that there’s always opportunity for growth and to build a career. That they are going to be successful if they have real passion for what they do.

Mentorship that leads towards promoting within is also vital to uphold their longevity within the Organization.

What would you tell someone who wants to work in nutrition or healthcare food service?

There are endless possibilities and job opportunities in the field of nutrition. Whether you have a concentration in culinary arts or nutrition or even a combination of both, there is a position out there that will not only challenge you but will be extremely rewarding.

In the realm of long term care facilities, most of the residents reside there, it is their home. We as food service professionals are their personal chefs, wait staff and dietitians. We are responsible for them. It is not just coming in and working for whatever your shift is and leaving. You are making an impact on somebody’s life.

Thanks for your insight Ms. Ryan!


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