Explore program provides residents with glimpses of cuisine and culture from other countries

16 October 2023

Eighty per cent of Silvera residents in our supportive living communities tried new foods at least once last year, according to the results of the most recent resident survey. This can likely be credited to Silvera’s Explore program, which is a partnership between our Culinary Services and Life, Learning and Leisure (LLL) teams to help residents learn more about different world cultures.

The Explore program originally started 15 years ago at Silvera, with a focus solely on food.

“In 2020, the LLL and Culinary Services teams resurrected the program, which had waned a bit, renamed it Explore and introduced elements of deeper learning,” explains Krista Gerelus, Technical Adviser, Dining Services. “It’s now a combination of armchair travel, games, music, trivia, dances, and food tastings so residents really get a sense of what life and cuisine is like in other countries.”

Silvera’s Culinary Services and LLL teams put their heads together each fall to plan which countries they will feature the following year. “We try to showcase places that are important to residents and our employees, as we get more engagement that way,” says Krista. “Resident suggestions are very important to the success of this program.”

Some of the countries Silvera residents have ‘visited’ in the past year include Italy, Mexico, Philippines, India, Sweden, China, France, Chile, Japan, Ethiopia, Lebanon, and Egypt.

“Sometimes we explore countries that are more familiar, but we always try to incorporate a few that have interesting or unique cuisines we wish to highlight,” says Krista.

Many cultures and countries are represented within our employee team, and the Explore program is an opportunity for some of our staff to share about their home countries.

Sometimes specific nations are showcased during famous events. “We featured France this summer during the Tour de France, so we were able to also incorporate that event into our LLL activity schedule,” Krista explains.

She says it’s been delightful to hear how many people are excited about the program and are willing to try new things.

“Residents are often wary of trying new foods, but it seems that many are more open minded now as we continue the program. I think they realize that trying new foods is not scary, and they often end up really enjoying different things.”

Mid-month, our Culinary Services teams prepare a tasting of a specific country’s food, and at the end of the month they celebrate each country with a full meal. Residents always have an alternative meal on Explore days in case they aren’t a fan. “However, many times we hear ‘I never would have expected that would taste so good!’” Krista laughs.

She says she was excited to see the results of the resident survey, as it really shows interest residents have in exploring new countries and trying new foods “It’s so encouraging to see such positive results because we want to increase the diversity of our menus as our communities also grow in diversity.”

The Explore program helps build relationships between residents and employee teams, Krista concludes. “It really breaks down walls and barriers, and ultimately grows our culture at Silvera.”