Whoosh ... take a look at these:
I did an internship in a hospital kitchen years back. It wasn't called a kitchen, it was called "Food Service." Learned a ton about quantity food production. When I look at those photos, I have some understanding of what's going on behind them ... still. (After looking at them - if I have to be hospitalized, I want it to be in Japan.)
See that conveyer belt in the photo to the right? You had to fill trays as they moved past, matching the patient's menu. There was a tray checker at the end of the line. I still have nightmares about it. Sometimes Lucille Ball is in them. (In case that ref. is a little old, here's a reminder.)
Heh, I can certainly understand your concern. Back in the late 60s my father opened a hospital food service kitchen in order to offer higher quality foods through hospitals. He was a lab tech & couldn't stand the hospital lunch fare. I guess opening a business was easier than making a decent lunch for himself. :D
The only thing I know about hospital food is that whenever we have a child, I'm the one who eats it. I can't stand waste, and the wife can't stand the fair :P
hopsital food in crete mirrors the food customs that society has. there's a focus on mediterranean ingredients, and the food is always presented in the typical way it would be served in a home-made meal.
here's an example: if the main meal is green beans stewed in a tomato sauce (http://organicallycooked.blogspot.com/2007/08/fasolakia-yiahni-stewed-string-beans.html), then it will be served with a slice of bread and a piece of feta cheese.
there is no mish mash of ingredients or cooking techniques - i value that kind of stability in the food culture of a community
(and unfortunately, i've been in and out of hospital with my kids and myself quite a few times over the years)
I worked at a Children's Hospital until about a year ago, so yes... pretty familiar with hospital food. The kitchen looked pretty much like the picture.
While the menu featured the usual burgers and such, the hospital I worked at did try to have healthy offerings. They had a pretty decent and kid-friendly salad bar. Every day they had a special feature, and they always had veggie offerings. For example, they might have a pasta bar one day, and they really did try to load it up with vegetables and tomato-based sauces, using meats more sparingly. I don't recall, but they may have even had whole wheat pasta for those types of things.
Parents who wanted to find a healthier choice for themselves or their kids could definitely find something. It wasn't always the most delicious food ever, but I've certainly had worse.
The hospital also started a wellness program (mind, body, and spirit) for employees, which was a little controversial, because people didn't want their employer telling them what to do. Some of the junk food was removed from vending machines, smoking was completely banned from the property, and there were all kinds of programs offered - weight watchers at work, free exercise classes, meditation sessions, walking meetings were encouraged (love those), etc. The hospital argued that their employees need to set a good example for the kids & families they are treating. I fully supported it and thought it was a great program.
This organization is definitely not representative of all hospitals, though. They've been nationally recognized many times over for their commitment to stuff like this.
back in the day, when smoking was allowed on airplanes and in hospitals, my uncle spent several weeks at a seventh day adventist hospital. he quit smoking, and i had my first veggie burger. my aunt could not live without caffeine, so i snuck caffeinated iced tea into the hospital.
more recently, i ate two meals/day at a rehab center. again, captive audience that we were, patients and visitors lined up 15 minutes before mealtime, impatient for mushy vegetables, instant potatoes and mystery meat. by saturday, squash, beans, tomatoes, corn and peas were mixed into one bin, and i just told myself it was a better choice than burger king.
Walking meetings ... now that's progressive.
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