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Nursing Home Food

Federal regulations (42 C.F.R. § 483.60) provides that each resident receives and the facility must provide:

  • Food prepared by methods that conserve nutritive value, flavor, and appearance;
  • Food and drink that is palatable, attractive, and at a safe and appetizing temperature;
  • Food prepared in a form designed to meet individual needs;
  • Food that accommodates resident allergies, intolerances, and preferences;
  • Appealing options of similar nutritive value to residents who choose not to eat food that is initially served or who request a different meal choice; and
  • Drinks, including water and other liquids consistent with resident needs and preferences and sufficient to maintain resident hydration.

Menus must:

  • Meet the nutritional needs of residents in accordance with established national guidelines.;
  • Be prepared in advance;
  • Be followed;
  • Reflect, based on a facility’s reasonable efforts, the religious, cultural, and ethnic needs of the resident population, as well as input received from residents and resident groups;
  • Be updated periodically;
  • Be reviewed by the facility’s dietitian or other clinically qualified nutrition professional for nutritional adequacy; and
  • Nothing in this paragraph should be construed to limit the resident’s right to make personal dietary choices.

Each resident must receive and the facility must provide at least three meals daily, at regular times comparable to normal mealtimes in the community or in accordance with resident needs, preferences, requests, and plan of care.

There must be no more than 14 hours between a substantial evening meal and breakfast the following day, except when a nourishing snack is served at bedtime, up to 16 hours may elapse between a substantial evening meal and breakfast the following day if a resident group agrees to this meal span.

Suitable, nourishing alternative meals and snacks must be provided to residents who want to eat at non-traditional times or outside of scheduled meal service times, consistent with the resident plan of care.

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