Celebrity chefs have stepped in to reshape hospital food menus. The BBC has commissioned celebrity chef James Martin to revamp the catering facilities at Scarborough General Hospital. Martin has been tasked with making the hospital’s menu more appealing to patients. He has also redesigned food at several other UK hospitals.
Hospitals typically receive frozen meals from outside catering companies, which staff must then reheat, add condiments, and hope that the patients will eat them. However, some hospitals have upgraded entire wings to attract wealthy patients, and the food at these establishments is now five-star. But there are other options. Here are a few of them:
Peled, the executive chef at Sloan-Kettering, has won top honors in the 2010 Big Apple Health Care Culinary Challenge, a competition sponsored by the Healthcare Food Administrators’ Association. Peled won the challenge in part because she has the ability to prepare delicious dishes for young cancer patients. Some of her more unique creations include a pasta carbonara made with low-fat milk and turkey bacon. Other dishes have included black beans and chips in the style of Moe’s Southwest Grill.
While the standard hospital fare is meat and potatoes, many hospitals have begun to offer healthier alternatives. In some cases, hospital chefs have even made it possible to customize a meal according to the patient’s religious or dietary needs. The standard menu for dinner and lunch may include eight different entrees. Some hospitals even offer kosher and halal cuisine for those who are observant.
Hospital food safety is a complex issue and there are many regulations governing food safety in medical facilities. A recent study released by the American Medical Association (AMA) called for more healthful plant-based meals and a reduction in processed meats in hospitals. Nonetheless, the issue is not over yet, as there is hope for a change.
The first steps to improving hospital food service began in the 1940s, when a group of dieticians at Barnes Hospital complained about the cold food they were receiving. This was a sign that a cultural shift was taking place. As a result, the hospital food service model changed. In 1946, the first national manual on hospital nutrition and dietetics appeared. This book was designed to help hospitals improve patient nutrition.
There are also other ways to improve hospital food. For instance, Japanese researchers have looked into improving the quality of chewing and swallowing for elderly patients. According to one study, more than one in five people over the age of 50 suffer from a problem that limits their ability to chew or swallow food. As a result, many older hospital patients need protein shakes to get their daily intake of nutrition. These shakes are not always the most pleasant to eat, but they provide necessary nutrients to hospital patients.
Fortunately, there are now more innovative ways to improve the quality of hospital food. UC Davis Medical Center in California has implemented a farm-to-fork food program that emphasizes locally-grown whole-foods and plant-based ingredients. As a result, the hospital has received a James Beard Foundation award. But in order to improve hospital food quality, hospitals must be willing to pay for the extra expense of better nutrition. In the long run, it’s far better to pay a little extra to serve healthy food than to treat patients who have eaten poorly.