+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 23-12F

Quality of Food Served in Rural Continuing Care Centre

January 1, 2012
Expiry Date:
November 30, 2015
Active Status:
MD of Willow Creek
1 - Foothills-Little Bow
Accepted in Principle
Vote Results:
Carried as Amended

WHEREAS the residents of rural continuing care homes are typically permanent residents of these facilities; and

WHEREAS the quality of life for our seniors citizens who live in rural continuing care home must be maintained at the highest level; and

WHEREAS in the past, the food served to our seniors in these facilities was obtained locally where ever possible and cooked on site; and

WHEREAS Alberta Health Services has changed the provision of food services to mass produced, frozen, prepared foods with some fresh options in order to save money and standardize the meals across the province; and

WHEREAS the quality of the food served in these facilities is far below the quality of locally produced cooked meals and there is no costs savings realized from this change;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties lobby the Province of Alberta to allow for the return to previous food services and practices in rural continuing care homes through the provision of in-house prepared meals for our senior residents.

Member Background:

Continuing care homes are usually the final home for many of Alberta’s seniors who require 24 hour care.  One of the most important things to all of us, including our seniors is good quality food and the good health and enjoyment that home cooked meals bring. 

Over the past three years, Alberta Health Services made significant changes to the food service provided to the seniors residing at these facilities by removing certified chefs, removing kitchen equipment and supplies and replacing much of the home cooked meals with frozen dinners trucked in to the facility by Sysco Foods.  Many of the ingredients in these frozen dinners are not even products of Canada, let alone products of Alberta or locally grown foods.  Many ingredients are manufactured, frozen and shipped from the eastern seaboard of the United States.  These food trays are then heated and served to the residents. While there are some additional items offered to residents such as fresh fruit and vegetables, the fare being served today in these facilities is a far cry from the quality of the home cooked meals that were served just three short years ago.

The reasoning behind the changes was to standardize the meals and to save money.  It is understood that there are no cost savings to the new system and while meals are standardized, they have lowered the quality in those facilities that were renowned for serving delicious “home cooked” meals.

RMA Background:

Resolution 5-09F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Province of Alberta and Alberta Health and Wellness to maintain auxiliary extended care beds, assisted and designated assisted care living beds, within their communities so seniors can feel secure and comfortable and receive proper and compassionate health care, as well as maintaining a connection with their family, friends, and home communities.

Government Response:

On July 25, 2012, Minister Horne directed Alberta Health Services (AHS) to bring back on-site meal preparation in AHS-operated long-term care facilities.  The directive stated that a plan be submitted to the Minister and be fully implemented by December 1, 2012. 

AHS submitted their Closer to Home Action Plan to Minister Horne for approval in October and it was implemented by December 2012. 

  • The Closer to Home initiative was developed in partnership with volunteer Health Advisory Councils who helped facilitate dialogue between their communities and AHS.  They gathered more than 1,700 suggestions from residents, families, community members, and facility staff on changes and improvements to menu selections at long-term care centres. 
  • Residents at all 72 AHS-operated long-term care centres were consulted. Tastings and kitchen tours were also held at facilities throughout Alberta, at which local community members were able to sample the foods served and provide feedback on the taste, quality, and appearance. 

The following actions were implemented and are specific to each long-term care site:

  • Identifying resident-focused menu changes;
  • Making more meals from scratch on-site;
  • Bringing in more Alberta-grown foods; 
  • Staff training, including culinary and customer service;
  • Review of resident satisfaction and quality Improvement tools;
  • Provision of more opportunity to give feedback on changes they would like;
  • Community engagement and communication; and 
  • Working with sites to enhance the resident meal experience. 
  • AHS food-preparation staff at long-term care centres have received the required training to meet the recommendations of the Closer to Home consultations.

AHS will continue to work with communities and partners, including Health Advisory Councils, to further improve the meals offered in its long-term care facilities.  Additional information on AHS’s Closer to Home initiative can be found at http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/foodservices.asp.


The AAMDC Accepts in Principle the government’s response to this resolution. While the government did not implement changes that revert back to previous food services, they have instituted the Closer to Home Action Plan that takes food quality, on-site preparation and resident satisfaction into account. With the community approach in developing these changes, the government has made significant improvements toward the intent of this resolution. 

Provincial Ministries:
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