Director of Dining Services at Artman, JJ Landy, has always had a special place in her heart for this close-knit senior living community. Growing up in Ambler, Artman has always been just around the corner from home. “I used to Christmas carol here as a kid, so I’ve known Artman since childhood,” JJ says reminiscing. One thing JJ has always noticed about this community is the compassionate team of staff who lift the spirits of residents as well as their colleagues each and every day.
Working in the culinary and nutrition industry for over 20 years, food and cooking, especially for older adults, has been JJ’s passion for most of her life. “Once I got started in the food industry, I never left,” she reflects. JJ started her career at a company known as Fresh Fields. Here, she had many opportunities for professional growth. “I worked my way up from a prep cook to a management position, and really began discovering my interest for food and cooking” she says.
Taking a basic nutrition class at Montgomery County Community College, JJ fell in love with the field. Later earning her certification as a registered dietician and a Bachelor of Science in nutrition degree from Drexel University, JJ began an internship program at a long-term care senior living community in Lower Gwynedd.
My internship solidified that senior living is where I really belonged. It was about building relationships with residents, and seeing your interventions work. You see the difference that it makes in residents’ lives.
JJ’s Journey to Artman: Finding a Community that Became Like Family
With a clear belonging in the senior living industry, when JJ saw an opportunity to work at Artman in Ambler, she was thrilled to apply. “When I saw the opportunity to work at Artman full-time, I immediately jumped on it,” she says. Beginning her journey with Artman in 2011, JJ has developed a unique bond with the people of this community.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve gotten married, I’ve been pregnant with my two children” she reflects.
Artman has really been a part of my family, and it has always been home to me. The chance to give back to this community is very special.JJ Landy, director of dining services at Artman
Since working at Artman, JJ has not only journeyed through various stages of life including marriage and children, she also earned her master’s degree in public health. She even completed her thesis by creating an 8-week class that she taught at The Becoming Center, which is a wellness community that specializes in personalized fitness located on Artman’s campus.
Whether she is pursuing degrees, or organizing cookouts and fun events for residents, JJ says what she enjoys most about her career is building relationships with the people of this community. “I absolutely love the residents at Artman. They completely make my day. I love getting to know their families and really being able to connect with everyone in the community.”
An Amazing Team: What Makes Artman Staff So Special
Another great quality about Artman that JJ finds truly motivational is the dedication and encouragement she sees among staff every single day. “The staff here are amazing. Everyone works together as a team to provide the best level of service that we possibly can. It’s a very unique bond that is unlike any other place I’ve been. There’s an ebb and flow and when one person is down everyone else does whatever they can to pick them back up.”
The staff at Artman give their best and there’s this spirit of encouragement and teamwork that you really don’t find anywhere else. We are all like family here including residents, staff, and even the residents’ family members.
This close-knit family bond especially helps Artman’s staff face any challenge that comes their way. Through COVID-19, the community’s sense of strength and encouragement have helped them ensure safety and security for residents and staff. While there have been many changes to the dining department including closing the dining rooms and delivering meals to residents’ rooms following proper safety guidelines, JJ says the entire team tries their best to make every day special.
“The dining staff here at Artman really put their heart and souls into cooking. Because of COVID-19 and the temporary closing of our dining rooms, we lose much of that social interaction that residents and staff really thrive on during mealtime,” JJ explains.
“We’re really trying to find ways to keep that engagement high. One day, we made cards saying ‘We miss seeing you every day!’ The dining staff signed them and we attached a piece of chocolate and delivered them. We also made special desserts for Mother’s Day. And we’ve been doing root beer floats that we deliver to residents’ rooms. Even things like Nutri-Grain bars that say ‘Artman Strong,’ we’re really just trying to make it as special as we can right now for our residents.”
JJ says as the weather warms up they’re planning on having a ten-person socially distant pop-up barbeque in the parking lot. “We’ve planned it out very thoroughly so that we can follow all safety guidelines, and we’ll have hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and residents will get some fresh air and be outside.”
As JJ and the dining services staff look forward to the future with encouragement and hope, their commitment and dedication to delivering the highest quality of compassionate care remains strong. “The sense of family between residents and staff here at Artman makes me really excited to come to work every day. We really just want to continue showing our residents that we truly care.”
JJ’s Favorite Summer Recipe: Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Salad Stack
- 3 teaspoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of jarred basil pesto
- 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
- 2/3 cup of canola oil
- 1 leek sliced julienne (chopped into long, thin slices)
- 3 teaspoons of fresh basil, sliced in thin strips
- 5 whole large tomatoes, (cut into 1/2 inch slices
- Fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch slices (for stacking)
- Combine olive oil and pesto. Mix until well-blended.
- In a saucepan, heat balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Cook until reduced by half (vinegar should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon)
- In another saucepan heat canola oil to 350 degrees. Add leeks to pan and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
- On a serving plate, assemble the stacked salad. For each stack, place one slice of tomato on bottom, followed by one slice of mozzarella. Repeat three times to create stack.
- Top each stack with a drizzle of pesto and balsamic vinegar.
- Top with fresh basil.
- Sprinkle fried leeks over top for added texture.