When COVID-19 hit, it accelerated some trends in hospital food service programs and introduced others. The result is that the composition of, and expectations for, the onsite dining workforce of 2021 and beyond is likely to be different from what it had been. It also is prompting hospitals to rethink and potentially expand the reach of their food services.
For example, Rob Stinson is a familiar figure around New Orleans and neighboring Mississippi as a restauranteur with five area eateries. Stinson is also a promoter of the healthy eating message through an initiative called Eat Right Meal Prep that provides fresh, nutritious meals to discharged patients at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, Miss., as well as the hospital’s staff and its affiliated doctors’ offices, according to Food Management.
The service is in addition to Memorial’s own in-house patient feeding and retail dining operations. Customers can also pick up their Eat Right Meal Prep meals at a local health club or have them delivered to their homes for an additional charge.
The service is more of a referral, Stinson says, adding that when a patient leaves the hospital and the cardiologist says they need a vegan diet, the service can provide it. In addition to informing discharged patients, the hospital sent information about the availability of the program to its 5,600 employees and to 110 physician’s offices with which it is affiliated.