Fried chicken. Meatball sandwiches. Country-fried steak.
Those are just a few of the hospital food offerings the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) found in a 2011 study. Dietitians surveyed more than 110 hospitals and found an abundance of fast-food outlets as well as cafeteria and patient menus "dominated by foods high in fat, cholesterol, calories, sugar, and sodium."
The findings didn't surprise Susan Levin, PCRM's director of nutrition education, but she believes hospitals have a duty to do better. Most people are hospitalized because of a chronic illness brought on by poor diet or lifestyle choices, she points out, so why not take the opportunity to teach them how to eat right?
We spoke with two innovators in healthcare foodservice who won awards for doing just that. Drew Patterson is culinary director of Ohio State University’s 1400-bed Wexner Medical Center, which won Best Wellness Concept from Food Management in 2015 for its Michael D. Bloch Café. Dan Henroid is director of Nutrition & Food Services at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSFMC), which won Best in Show. Here are some of their best practices for hospital foodservice.