March 10, 2016 - 4:30 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - 'Hospital food’ is a term that carries a stigma, but with new and healthy options, Interior Health hopes diners will enjoy the updated menus across the health authority.
Under the implementation of the Informed Dining Program put forward by the province’s Ministry of Health, cafeteria visitors will soon be trading deep fried foods for healthier alternatives, according to corporate director of support services Alan Davies. While the dining program was a requirement, Davies says administrators saw opportunities.
"When we were working on this initially we thought if we’re going to change our menus and try and point people in a different direction when it comes to nutrition, it might be a good idea to try and piggy back this initiative with something like the heart and stroke foundation’s recipes on their website," he says. "If (people) came to our cafeterias and had a dish we were serving… we could direct them to the website to get that recipe."
Penticton Regional Hospital, Vernon Jubilee Hospital and Kelowna General Hospital have been included in the changeover, while Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops will roll out the new menu items by April.
Davies says cafeteria chefs tested a few menu items with users who particularly enjoyed a curried chicken and a tomato pizza. Vegetarian items have also been incorporated into the mix, like a bean burrito and a chickpea pasta salad. Options for those with dietary restrictions or requests such as gluten free or vegan options may also make it into the menu. All calorie and nutritional information for each dish will be made available to customers.
Reducing sodium and fat is the crux of the program which means deep fryers will be permanently removed from all hospital cafeterias. Davies says the fryer at the Royal Inland Hospital will see its last day tomorrow, March 11, with an all-you-can eat fried food lunch.
Chicken fingers and fries will still be available, Davies says, but with the introduction of convection and steam ovens, the cooking process will eliminate the extra grease.
The dishes are only available to cafeteria customers, but Davies will be watching to see what items become favourites. Staff is still testing which meals could be produced en masse for patients.
"I know one is a turkey chilli which would be easy to produce anywhere and it seems to be quite popular as well. It does reduce some of the fat and sodium that’s in a typical beef chilli,” he says.
Healthy eating is the primary goal, but Davies says overcoming the criticism of hospital food is another hurdle administrators hope to jump.
"We’ve always had that challenge. Just about every TV show if there’s somebody going through a hospital there’s always a comment about hospital food which always makes us cringe of course. I think what we’ve noticed is in some sites we get less complaints about the food than others,” Davies says. “We’re trying to look at the future of food services in health care… people are looking for choice and being able to make decisions on their meals. That’s certainly something we’re working towards."
When one of the best places to eat in town is the hospital
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016