Forget mystery meat and green Jell-O.
Those typical hospital
foods that have been ridiculed for years are being replaced by more
nutritious fare, such as flatbread pizzas, turkey meatloaf, heart-shaped
frozen yogurt desserts, baked chicken and baked french fries.
Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is announcing Thursday that
as many as 400 more hospitals, which use Morrison Healthcare Food
Services, are joining PHA's program to offer healthier fare to patients,
visitors and employees. Overall, as many as 550 hospitals will now be
participating in the program. Michelle Obama is the honorary chairwoman
of PHA, a non-profit that shares the same mission as the first lady's
Let's Move! campaign (letsmove.gov) - to reduce childhood obesity.
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Hospitals participating in the healthier food program are asked to:
Offer a daily lower-calorie healthy meal and children's healthy meal in
their cafeterias and on patients' menus. Those meals must meet specific
food and nutrition standards, and cafeteria meals must be priced less
than or equal to other meals.
- Remove all fryers and deep-fried products.
- Offer only healthy foods near cash registers, instead of candy bars and salty snack foods.
- Increase the amount of fruits and veggies they offer.
Serve more healthful beverages, such as water, 100% fruit juice and
vegetable juice, unflavored low-fat and fat-free milk, teas and coffee.
One of the goals of the program is "to highlight healthier options,
especially in hospital settings where you'd expect to have the
healthiest options available to you," says endocrinologist James Gavin
III, chairman of PHA's board of directors. "Hospitals should be leading
the charge to improve nutrition standards for patients, staff and family
members and the public that they serve."
director of food and nutrition services for Morrison at Children's
Healthcare of Atlanta, has been working for several years to improve the
nutritional quality of meals. The hospital now serves its young
patients entrees such as a ground-turkey meatloaf shaped like a cupcake
and topped with a dollop of mashed potatoes and bits of carrots.
a flatbread breakfast pizza topped with fresh berries, and healthier
desserts including frozen yogurt shaped like a heart and a gluten-free
chocolate cake made with cocoa powder and a black-bean paste that
customers can't taste.
"It's like a regular chocolate cake. You
would never guess it has black beans in it," August says. "We don't
market the cake as healthy. We use the stealth-health approach. It has
the extra health benefit from the fiber." Ditto on the tomato soup,
which has white beans blended into it to increase the fiber.
Anita Widmayer, director of food and nutrition services for Kaiser
Permanente Orange County, has been participating in PHA's healthier
hospital food commitment and says she already has made many of the
recommended changes, including offering more fresh vegetables and
fruits, cutting out sugary beverages and removing deep fryers.
hospitals offer a variety of nutritious choices including a salad bar,
sandwich bar, healthy meal options and vegetarian pizza, Widmayer says,
and they're using light mayonnaise, whole-wheat bread, ice cream with
less sugar, and canned fruit in juice instead of syrup. Yet they also
still have pepperoni pizza, meatloaf and ribs.
some customers have whined about the fact that the french fries are
baked instead of fried, but Widmayer says she is getting a new piece of
equipment that will make them taste more like regular fries.
yes, the hospitals still offer Jell-O. Says Widmayer: "A lot of people
still need the sugary Jell-O, particularly if they are on a clear-liquid