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Special report: Hospital food goes gourmet

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | January 18, 2013
From the January 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

tenderloin from a locally sourced cow, for example, the hospital might make a beef stew, mixing the beef with other ingredients to extend its value, Grant explains.

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A woman enjoys Senior Suppers
at New Milford Hospital.

New Milford Hospital
Location: New Milford, Conn.
Sustainable since: 2006, when the hospital founded Plow to Plate, which connects farmers with the hospitals and restaurants in the area.
Sample dish: Chicken salad with dried cranberries.
Food service highlights: Plow to Plate started when the hospital decided to use area farms to help build a sustainable food system. “We realized we could create healthier diets, support our farmers and send a message that eating nutritious whole foods is a path to disease prevention,” says Susan Twombly, coordinator of external affairs. Besides bringing food from plow to plate, the hospital also delivers meals from roof to plate. Its roof garden grows vegetables and herbs that are used in the cafeteria — the lavender found in the facility’s popular lavender scones is harvested from the roof garden. Overall, the hospital’s food services today are a far cry from what hospital chefs found when they first arrived. “We were coming into an organization that was old school,” says Chef Kerry Gold. “They were opening cans and throwing them into a pan.” Now, everything is made from scratch, even soup stock and deli meat.

Lunch is served at Overlake
Hospital Medical Center.
(Credit Scott Areman.)

Overlake Hospital Medical Center
Location: Bellevue, Wash.
Sustainable since: 2007 when the hospital took the Healthy Food in Health Care pledge. The greening process started with retail areas, the Atrium Café and Stanzas Café, but soon spread to patient menus.
Sample dish: Thai shrimp noodle salad.
Food service highlights: Overlake has an extensive list of sustainable improvements it has made, from switching to local, cage-free, organic eggs to removing all deepfried items from patient menus and hosting “meatless Monday” every week. The medical center also authored a comprehensive food policy to provide a framework for sustaining those changes and helping to inform vendors about what the center will and will not buy. Besides being committed to the planet, Overlake is also deeply involved in making sure patients are eating something that makes them feel good. “We will do anything for our patients,” says Christopher Linaman, executive chef. “Including walking across the street to Whole Foods and procuring exactly what they want, in the unlikely circumstance we don’t have it already.” In the future, Overlake Hospital would like its dining services to be completely free of GMO ingredients and foods.

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