, Gloucester, MA


September 5, 2012

The ins and outs of hospital food

Walk into the Addison Gilbert or Beverly Hospital kitchens in the morning and homemade stock, the base for all the soups served to patients and visitors, is simmering on the stove.

Along with stocks, the kitchens make their own salad dressings, light mayonnaise, and breads. The pizza alone — thin homemade dough with a draping of cheese and browned red onions — served in the Beverly Hospital cafeteria, is a sign that something seriously good is happening to hospital food.

“There’s a revolution going on in health-care food service around the country,” Alan Hawley, MBA, CDM, District Manager for Undine Corporation, the food service provider contracted by Northeast Health Systems, says. “Northeast Health System is at the forefront of this revolution in recognizing that the philosophy of ‘first do no harm’ extends to the food served to patients, families and caregivers.”

Composting, recycling, shopping locally, the anthem of well-meaning, globally-thinking food people, is now being sung by Addison Gilbert and Beverly Hospital chefs.

Beyond pizza, here are some of extremely visible changes you’ll see if you visit:

Herb gardens, growing French-country-restaurant-style outside at both hospitals, provide sage, parsley, thyme, two kinds of basil, oregano, and tarragon for their kitchens.

Dave Gauvin, the executive chef at Addison Gilbert, says he’s met many more employees now that he’s out in the garden cutting herbs when the morning shift arrives.

Bottled water has almost been eliminated in both hospitals. Instead, free flavored-water stations, beautiful coolers filled with infused tap water, are posted through the buildings and in the Emergency Rooms. Fresh oranges floated in the coolers the day I visited Beverly hospital, but other days cucumbers with mint, and watermelon infuse that day’s version of “Hydrate For Your Health.” A stack of paper cups stands beside it, a cold, fresh drink ready for anyone. (Unidine is working towards a styrofoam-free kitchen and cafeteria.)

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