“My family away from my family.”
That’s the way Mary Anderson of Hannibal describes the residents and her co-workers at Luther Manor Retirement and Nursing Center.
Mary has worked in food service at Luther Manor since the mid 1980s, making sure residents and staff alike are well nourished and satisfied.
She’s popular with the residents because they know she’s looking out for their interests.
“I treat people the way I want to be treated in my golden days. My residents are the best part of the job - making them happy.”
“I’m just a simple person,” she said. “I love my job and I love my family.”
Mary admits that her job was a challenge when she first started as a dietary aid. Later she became a cook, which she enjoyed, and transferred to morning cook, which she didn’t like as well.
She prefers the shift she’s working now, from 10:15 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., during which she prepares food for lunch and dinner.
When residents come to the dining room for a meal, they fill out their selections from a menu. While they can pick and choose from what’s on the menu, they can also request two favorites: grilled cheese and chicken soup.
On Thursday, May 8, the menu included vegetable soup, BLT sandwiches, spaghetti, cottage cheese salad, cucumber salad and peanut butter cookies.
In addition to the residents, the staff and those living at Luther Manor Village may choose options from the menu.
A resident favorite is little drummies, that come precooked and ready to reheat.
“They love them. It makes them happy, and all that’s left after the meal is the bones,” Mary said.

Mary has gained a sincere respect for her supervisor for the last two years, Charlotte Meyer. “It used to be, if it didn’t come in a box or a can, I wouldn’t fix it. She has helped me branch out a lot. She has taught me a lot. Now we prepare everything, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She is awesome, she really is.”
After preparing two meals a day for residents, five days a week, she thinks she knows their individual preferences.
“But sometimes they will switch on you,” Mary said.
A resident who wants grilled cheese and chicken soup most days, will change it up on another day. It keeps Mary guessing.
“If you enjoy what you do, it makes you want to branch out and do more. And that’s what has happened during her career at Luther Manor.
“Good Lord, I didn’t think I’d be here this many years,” she said.
When she’s not working, Mary admits she only cooks “sometimes.” She enjoys fishing and playing Bingo - if she happenings to be off on Wednesdays. She has two daughters, one granddaughter and two grandsons.
She loves the work environment, and the attitude the key staff has toward the residents.
“If I live to be their age, I would love to be here,” Mary said.