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!


Here’s a link to the original article

Interview with our very own Dawn Cascia


Dawn Cascio wears multiple hats in the Healthcare food service industry.

In addition to her position as Director of Dining at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Dawn also serves on the board of The Greater New Jersey Society for Healthcare Food Administrators. After moving up from a small psychiatric rehabilitation hospital Dawn moved to a 250 bed community hospital and assumed the position of Assistant Manager before taking over at Valley Hospital. We had an opportunity to speak with her about the Healthcare service industry, her career path and how her occupation has evolved in recent years.

Ms. Cascio, How did you get into the healthcare service industry?

I started out as a clinical dietician. My first job was a mixture of covering critical care units, ventilator unites and a drug detox unit.

What sort of career path did you take to your current position?

I took a few positions, each with increasing food service management responsibilities. One position I had was in a small 90-bed psychiatric, alcohol & drug detox rehabilitation hospital. I functioned as the Clinical Dietitian as well as the Food Service Director. My time was spent fifty percent clinical and fifty percent food service. From there I took a position at a midsize 250-bed community hospital as the Assistant Director/ Patient Services Manager.

How have the dining needs of your patients evolved?

I think the patients in the hospital are more acute and they stay now for a shorter period of time. Most patients are elderly. You have to make sure food is classic comfort food that can be easily eaten. It cannot require too much cutting and it needs to be soft. It is also a balancing act to create a menu that pleases your very ill and older, and your younger maternity patients and their significant others.

What is your approach to building your team?

I think it is best to have a team that enjoys working with one another. Your supervisory team must have a say in who they think will be the best fit for the department. It is also important that work be a collaborative effort. Also, acknowledging a job well done is extremely critical.

What type of employees succeed in your culture?

People who are collaborative and will help each out even though it might not be their area. We really stress that we are one team and team work is essential in meeting and exceeding patient, employee and community expectations

What are you doing to attract the “next generation” of professionals to healthcare dining?

We are a host site for several Dietetic Internships in New Jersey. We take students from Montclair State University and Rutgers University. They typically spend four weeks with us.

I am amazed at the breadth of responsibility you and your department have beyond just food. What else falls under your managerial umbrella?

In July of 2010 we began a project of having our own beehives to make our own honey. Managing bees has been an interesting part of the job. We go up on the roof frequently to see how they are doing. Occasionally we get loose bees that we have to contain. It is always a nice reason to go outside, especially in the warmer months.

How do your foodservice, nutrition and dietitian all work together?

We have monthly department meetings. All staff, both clinical and food service, attend the meetings together. We also involve the staff when making menu changes for the patients as well as for the employee cafeteria.

What makes for a successful operation?

Communication and respect are essential. It is crucial to keep foremost in mind that we are here for one thing and that is to serve the patient.

From a menu standpoint there seems to be tremendous pressure to serve farm to table and local food. What is your approach to that?

I would not say pressure. We want to do local foods because of the superior flavor and freshness. We do as much local and farm to table as possible being in the northeast. We have a vegetable and herb garden on site. Our chefs grow a lot of heirloom vegetables. We also belong to a CSA (Community Supported) Agriculture in at Catalpa Ridge Farm in Sussex Country, New Jersey about fifty miles from the hospital. Jersey corn and tomatoes are amazing!

What role do your food and beverage vendors play in your success?

They are a great resource for ideas and inspiration. Their commitment to the healthcare segment is commendable. We know we can rely on them in any situation.

Do you go to bid constantly?

We are always checking price and monitoring the markets. If we know the price of an item is going up, we’ll modify the menu. Making sure we are getting the best possible value for the hospital is paramount to us.

Thanks for your insight Ms. Cascio and good luck in the future!






Original article

Gary Triolo in the News!

Our very own Gary Triolo and his team are highlight in an article from Catering magazine.

Click here to read the full article.

Here’s an exerpt…

Going it alone

While a hefty percentage of healthcare locations rely on companies such as Cura and Aramark for their foodservice, many prefer to keep it in-house.

Serving approximately 1,700 meals a day, Freehold, N.J.-based CentraState Healthcare System is a not-for-profit health organization affiliated with the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Family Medicine Residency Program. In addition to a 284-bed acute care teaching hospital, it operates an outpatient center, and three senior living communities.

“Deanna Curry, our executive chef, and her staff are always looking for new, trendy items, and, thankfully, they’re very good at that,” says Gary Triolo, director of food and nutrition services.

“Our restaurant-style room service menu is measured through the Press Ganey patient satisfaction survey process, and our overall satisfaction scores range from the high 80th percentile to the mid-90th percentile. For the patients, we do our best to keep everything low-fat and low-sodium, but still tasty. As a result, many selections could be allowable for most diets.”

One of his proudest accomplishments, Triolo says, was “taking over a new, outsourced and failing café at our attached ambulatory campus. We transformed this café into a fresh-and-healthy-style café where a different ‘nutrilicious’ hot meal is presented daily. Each selection is nutritionally balanced, and the calorie count is under 550.”

GNJSHFSA – Clinical Workshop – March 18, 2016

IMG_6417 (1)

The GNJSHFSA hosted an event on Friday, March 18, 2016 at CentraState Medical Center.  More than twenty people attended!

GNJSHFSA_WorkshopThis workshop focused on RD order writing privileges and the current trends on gluten free menus in healthcare.

Executive Chef Deanna Curry and her staff prepared a beautiful menu of small plates featuring all gluten free items.  Also, there was a live crepe demonstration featuring gluten free buckwheat crepes.

IMG_6411After lunch, Anthony Dissen, MA, RDN discussed the topic of gluten free menus in healthcare.  One of the main concepts conveyed was the idea that gluten free foods are likely already part of the facility’s menu.  

Providing patients with options and tweaking existing menus so that each day has a gluten free option are some ways to easily incorporate this dietary need into your kitchen.  Tips to avoid cross-contamination were provided.  Also, pre-packaged gluten free food replacements were discussed.

The second half of the seminar was an open discussion on RD order writing privileges which have been recently implemented in three area facilities.  The discussion was led by a panel:


  • Aimee Crant-Oksa MS, RDN, FAND from CentraState Medical Center
  • Rajesh Kumari MS, RDN, DSC from Overlook and Chilton Medical Centers
  • Laura Taddeo RD from Monmouth Medical Center

Each panelist discussed the successes, challenges and lessons learned from the implementation of RD order writing at their facility.

A Q&A session followed where other RDs and Clinical Nutrition Managers were able to glean further info on implementing the process in their own facilities.  Each panelist also provided printed materials used for “privileges” at their facility and what each of their advisory boards approved.

It was a lively, interactive, and insightful program, and the feedback from attendees was outstanding.IMG_6406 (1)