After self-described “foodie” Janelle (Steiger) Lacey graduated from Immaculata in 2008, she never imagined her career would bring her back to the campus.
Now a licensed dietician/nutritionist, Lacey is employed by Williamson Hospitality Services, a division of CulinArt, Inc., through which she works at four religious nursing/long-term care homes in the suburban Philadelphia region, including Immaculata’s own on-campus Camilla Hall, where she spends two days each week.
“I love it,” Lacey said. “My duties at Camilla include nutrition assessments and follow-ups, monitoring the Sisters’ weights, individual and group education, and menu planning with other managers from the dietary services department. It’s a lot of fun, and no two days are ever the same.”
One of the challenges she faces, she noted, “is keeping the Sisters’ favorite traditional recipes while preparing them in a way to meet current nutrition standards. It’s great to work with a talented team of cooks and managers, and the Sisters are willing to try new things and give us their feedback. One of our goals is to provide multiple options at each meal, allowing each Sister to choose her meals according to her preferences.”
Some of Lacey’s time is spent hosting sessions for Camilla Hall residents on nutrition-related topics, and “the Sisters always seem to really enjoy those,” she noted. “When I held an educational session on heart health, I prepared a healthy, fiber-rich blueberry muffin as the snack. The Sisters loved them, and expressed that they would like to see them on our menu. Since we regularly prepare homemade muffins at breakfast, we swapped out the recipe, and we change the flavor each time they’re prepared, such as peach, apple cinnamon and pumpkin.” The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Lacey said.
It was her post-graduate, year-long internship—required in the field of nutrition as a prerequisite to taking the boards—that led Lacey to her current position. “I hadn’t been considering it, but I learned in my internship that I enjoyed working in long-term care,” she said. “It’s great at Camilla that we have the freedom to do things like themed-meals, such as the recent Boardwalk Day we hosted, a collaboration between Dining Services and the Activities Department. The IHM Sisters have a home in Stone Harbor, NJ, but not all of them are physically able to go to the beach, so we brought it to them. We served beach-style food and concession items, and we even handed out tickets and had games for them to play.” Volunteers helped with the events, and the day, she noted with satisfaction, was a big hit.
Lacey, who grew up in Sinking Spring, PA, (near Reading) and now resides in Ardmore, PA, noted that she finds her thoughts often focus upon “the Sisters who cannot join us in the main dining room for meals. Food is something I truly enjoy, and I want to make sure that everyone has a positive dining experience, no matter where she is dining in the house.”
As to her own eating style, Lacey professed an enjoyment of ethnic foods, including Indian and Greek cuisine.
“I did my Immaculata study abroad in Greece, a three-credit art class that traveled to Greece over spring break,” she noted. “I took photographs of all kinds of Greek food, which was how I tied my major to an art class. It was a great experience.”
When it comes to cooking at home, she noted with regret a lack of free time keeps her from doing that as often as she might like. “But when I do,” she said, “I like to take something I’ve seen on a menu somewhere and make a healthier version of it.”
Her guilty pleasure when it comes to snacking? Without hesitation, Lacey said, “It’s ice cream, no matter what time of year and no matter what the weather. Although now that there are frozen yogurt places popping up all over, including one around the corner from my house, I can go there and feel a little less guilty.”