Iowa Choice Harvest

Customer Focus: January 2015

Mayflower Homes, Grinnell
An Interview with Derrick Sears, Foodservice Supervisor

Can you tell us about your establishment, the work you do, and the kinds of food you serve?

We are a retirement community that really emphasizes the quality of our food. Our focus at the Mayflower is providing quality food that isn’t what you would get when you think of a nursing home. At Mayflower we take a lot of pride in the meals that we serve on a daily basis.


How did you get involved in cooking? Could you describe your career path to your job now?

I started in foodservice when I was 15 years old in a local restaurant, and that is where I fell into the career that I have made. I attended Culinary Arts at Des Moines Area Community College where I received my degree. I then moved back to Grinnell to take a job in the field and held two different positions until I got my current position as supervisor.


What kinds of meals do you serve? How do you meet the special needs of your residents?

The meals that we serve here are what you would think of when “down-home cooking meets restaurant options.” We have a seven-week menu cycle so every seven weeks our menu starts back over. We offer a wide array of options: there are always two entrée options, two starch options, and two vegetable options at every meal. Monday through Friday we have a Bistro—like a café—for our residents that always has two sandwiches and a salad on the menu.


Why did you begin using Iowa Choice Harvest products? What types of dishes do you prepare using Iowa Choice Harvest foods?

I was contacted by Iowa Choice Harvest to see if we had a use for their product. I blindly bought it with the trust of our salesman and haven’t regretted that decision yet. We do almost all of our baking in-house for desserts and other items. We utilize the apples in many baked goods as well as apple salads, and we also make our own applesauce. We serve Iowa Choice Harvest corn on our menu several times over a cycle and use it in a lot of other dishes that include any kind of corn.


What do you like about using Iowa Choice Harvest foods?

In two words: Convenient and Quality. Iowa Choice Harvest is extremely easy to work with when it comes to placing or receiving an order. They take the work out of dealing with them and there is no minimum or maximum. You can order what you need and they will take care of your needs. Quality is by far and away the best thing about Iowa Choice Harvest. Their product is always as consistent as it can be and the quality has never suffered on anything I have had from them. I also like the fact that they are still a growing company with many opportunities and different product lines that they might come out with as they grow bigger.


Why have you made Iowa-local foods an important part of your cooking/business?

The entire Mayflower campus is a very big supporter of the “shop local” campaign and so it was a no-brainer. Our residents love knowing where their food is coming from, instead of mass and over-produced food. The fact is that they are supporting two Iowa companies: one being Iowa Choice Harvest and the bigger one being helping the Iowa farmer.


Anything else you’d like to add?

When we first mentioned to our residents we were looking at this Iowa-based company for different food items, the outpouring of support was unanimous. Our residents were 100% behind us on this decision without even trying the product. Once we switched to Iowa Choice Harvest, the quality won them over. I believe if we switched away from Iowa Choice Harvest, our residents would lodge a complaint because the quality would go down.


You can learn more about Mayflower Homes at or at 641-236-6151.