At Aramark facilities, staff see more interest in gluten-free, whole grains and
can perform any procedure, he says. “That can be a costly process
for a hospital.”
Compared with patients years ago, patients today are older
and sicker, says Gizara, meaning that more patients require
therapeutic diets. That’s because many operations that used to
require a hospital stay are now done as outpatient, he explains.
He says five years ago, 50%-60% of patients were on a regular
diet, but today, only 30% are. He notes that Aramark provides a
team of registered dietitians or manages the client’s dietitians to
work as part of a patient care team.
He’s seeing more interest in gluten-free, whole grains and
vegetarian offerings. Also popular are individual-sized items,
such as a “cakelet”—a single serve mini-cake for one—rather
than a slice of cake.
He avoids serving spicy foods, items with religious dietary
taboos, such as pork, and fish because of its distinctive aroma.
There’s more to foodservice than just the food, Gizara says.
“We try to create, as much as possible, a restaurant experience at
the bedside, from the way the tray looks to how you order (from
a restaurant-style menu) to the service.”
Even in hospitals that don’t use room-service ordering, he
and his team aim for a more personal approach. They talk to the
nursing teams at the units so they can understand patient needs
and respond to them
At Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, Greenville,
S.C., a Morrison Healthcare Foodservices program called
Catering to You also focuses on specialized attention, according
to Paul Manuel, director of food and nutrition services. In this
program, a catering associate (not a trained culinary person)
visits the patient several times a day. The associate delivers
breakfast, checks on it, picks it up, and returns to order lunch,
deliver, check on it and pick it up. The only meal that’s ordered
the night before is breakfast.
The catering associate reads the choices to a patient, then,
depending on the patient’s response, might offer an alternative.
Manuel and regional clinical nutrition manager Stacie Bullock
have seen lots of interest in cleaner, healthier ingredients, with
Mediterranean diets as a foundation. Fish is popular on Fridays
at this Catholic hospital. A favorite is panko-crusted tilapia.
“We have no fried food on our patient menu anymore,” says
Manuel. In place of fried chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy
and a vegetable, they offer marinated grilled chicken breast with
a fresh local vegetable and a starch. They make an exception if a
patient specifically requests something fried.
To cook healthier foods, some new cooking methods came
onboard. A char-broiler not only makes food healthier, it improves
plate presentation, for example, the restaurant-style score marks
on a steak, Manuel says. He’s also seeing more baking, grilling