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Institutional Food - Get's A Green Growers Make Over

bocaby Cristiane Roget, correspondent - Today's Restaurant News  

The Palm Beaches/FL  Today's menu Items include a savory chicken broth rendered from the dark meat marrow of free range chickens inspired by food world luminary Marco Canora (who invented the  bone-broth craze) infused with a bouquet of garden fresh herbs.   This serves as the base for a rejuvenating ,  if not a cure-all, steamy bowl of matzo ball soup.  The steaming soup is paired with a chilled glass of fresh squeezed,  blood orange juice complements of Natalie's Orchid Island Juices ™.   To finish is a melt-in-the mouth French Tarte Tatin of Granny Smith apples with a dab of crème fresh.   All three items appear on the menu du jour of patients' favorites.  Yes,  you read correctly, these are not dishes served at a white linen,  gourmet restaurant but standard fare at one, Boca Raton Regional Hospital,  a 400-bed not-for-profit award winning health care organization. 

"Jokes abound about the culinary appeal of hospital food: overcooked, bland, and processed. It’s ironic that the average American hospital has traditionally served up high-fat, low-nutrient menus that make “healthy hospital food” an oxymoron".

Cindy Atoji-Keene, the Boston Globe

"When one thinks of institutional food the adjectives  'gray', 'tasteless' and 'cardboard' are more apt to come to mind than 'field to table' , ' local when you can' or 'Escoffier in the French tradition, " say PDF Foods Paul Pizzo distributor of farm fresh foods and juices.  Since the dawn of civilization natural organic ingredients rather than processed and machine - made    have been known for their  curative and healing properties. 

Many corporate chefs and those running  big box food services are finding the transition from 'Fast'  to 'Fresh' enables patients to heal faster.   "Improving  the patient and staff experience with an added level of edible gratification.  "Hospitals by their very nature tend to be rife with foreboding and are stress producing.  We do not call it 'comfort food' for nothing," says Chef Dave Walker who arrived at Boca Regional Hospital after a successful stint one of Washington D.C.'s most demanding County Club Dining establishment.

Many of the solutions for poor and deteriorating health can be found not only in the lab but also in the kitchen", says Don King, Director of Nutrition and Food at Boca Raton Regional Hospital.  King  plies his trade with a dedication and passion that sees him working on weekends and holidays. 

He oversees a team of over  120 chefs, caterers, servers, nutritionists and food ambassadors.  "He and staff face the daunting challenge of preparing and serving 4000 meals a day while attending to food allergies, special dietary restrictions and a plethora of cultural and dietary laws and traditions.  One patients Paleo is the other's Kosher," says  T'keyah Dumoy a Dietetic Intern from the Department of Health. 


Combine countless logistics, there are budgetary concerns that play a role in aiming to please patients and their caregivers while respecting institutional protocols, that by their very nature crunch numbers and count beans. 

Says Jason Van Heule, of US Foods, "As an organic health and wellness consultant, I have seen remarkable results for clients that utilize healthy foods as a means to recover and heal from injury, poor health, and abuse that the body experiences with a poor diet. I can think of no better place to have a nutrient rich and toxic free nutritional program than in a hospital where patients need a natural, minimally processed, whole foods diet to get well.  As a food distributor, working with US Foods, I have learned, even with the perception of an increased cost of healthier, less processed foods, that it is possible to provide a nutrient rich and healthy diet to patients, while maintaining and sometimes even reducing the overall food cost that is served. "  We are a prominent food purveyor at Boca Raton Regional Hospital where this ethos is evident in all their orders. 

King has taken the art of decluttering  and resourcefullness to the next level.  He has become a champion of the ancient Japanese philosophy of mottainal - which  simply means "waste not want not". 


The Health Revolution spurned on by the specter of gross obesity and concomitant increase in chronic preventable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular and epidermal maladies  are more and more impediments to living a healthy life into the late ott's.  Life expectancy has almost doubled in the last century.   For those over 65 will increase 20% again by 2040.    

"Combine aging longer with spiraling medical costs have many decision makers in hospitals,  academic institutions and those they mentor embracing a credo  of Eat Smarter - Live Longer, " confirms Dr. Dana Churchill, an expert in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine,  of Los Angeles based Churchill Medical Center.   

"We are not subscribing either to the school of abstinence or eat your kale and chew your roughage aceticism " but celebrating the transformative power of food", comments Nilou Motamed, Editor in Chief of Food & Wine Magazine.

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