Hospital Foodservice Prescribing More Healthy Foods

What once was acceptable for foodservice in hospitals is no longer the case. Disappearing are the days of fried foods and mystery meats in hospital cafeterias—they are now being replaced with turkey burgers and quinoa salads. Numerous hospitals across the country are changing the way they feed patients, patients’ families and hospital staff.

Making the Case

Earlier this year, Hackensack University Medical Center launched the Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program, an at-a-glance rating system that helps diners quickly and easily identify nutritious choices to encourage healthy eating habits. The program rates with zero to three stars the nutritional value of every available item in the facility, including hot and cold prepared foods, the salad bar, grab-and-go items and beverages.

Methodist University Hospital of Memphis’s University Cafe cafeteria offers numerous choices for its staff and patients as well, including Flavors 450, a food station that uses ingredients from within a 150-mile radius of the hospital. It has a rotating menu of meals under 450 calories for less than $5.

At Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Fresh Market at Fairbanks, chefs tend a rooftop garden that yields 32 varieties of organic vegetables and herbs, which it uses in as many of its menu items as possible.

Conflict of Interests?

In the ‘80s it was commonplace for typical fast food restaurants to lease space within hospitals, but this trend is also a dying breed. Take for example, McDonald’s. Earlier this year, a group of doctors made a plea to administrators of 22 hospitals to eliminate McDonald’s restaurants from their buildings because they believe it goes against their mission of healthfulness. Even before this cry for change, Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas ended its contract with McDonald’s and now offers Ufood Grill and Urban Taco to its staff and patients.

In addition to modifying cafeteria offerings, hospitals are also strongly considering the type of limited-service restaurants they allow to operate within their facilities. Most are gravitating towards brands surrounded by health halos, such as Au Bon Pain, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Subway.

Source: Technomic’s 2012 Leading Healthcare Report; Technomic Digital Resource Library.

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Naomi Van Til

Naomi Van Til is a Senior Global Data Manager at Technomic Inc. She manages the firm’s Industry Reports, a global series that identifies major players and marketplace dynamics, keeping foodservice professionals smart about performance and trends. In addition, she is responsible for the tracking of chain restaurant and non-commercial financial data that makes up a large part of Technomic’s custom database, The Digital Resource Library, and is utilized within many other company products, such as Market Intelligence Research reports, Consumer Trend reports, custom studies, newsletters and conference presentations.

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