Bye-Bye Bland Hospital Food

New Food Service Caters to Patients

Bye Bye Bland Hospital FoodTexas-style French toast.  Chicken Marsala.
A seasonal fruit plate with yogurt and a slice of fresh-baked banana bread.

All delivered to your room by a catering associate who makes sure the milk is skim, the eggs are over easy and any other food preference – or restrictions – will be met.

It’s not hotel room-service.It’s Catering to You, the new hospital food service that Jersey Shore University Medical Center unveiled in November 2009.

“Just because they’re in a hospital doesn’t mean patients can’t enjoy personal, restaurant-style service,” said Shelia Mayes, food service coordinator for Jersey Shore.The new Catering to You service has resulted in more satisfied patients and a more efficient kitchen.

Jersey Shore employs 27 catering associates and 11 chefs, Mayes said.Under the program, the catering associates visit each patient up to 12 times each day, explaining the menu, taking orders and special requests, serving the meal and following up to ensure satisfaction.“The catering associates can spend much more time with the patient, finding out their preferences and taking orders, rather than just assembling trays in the kitchen,” said Renu Sethi, director of food service for Jersey Shore.

“This allows the associates to develop a good relationship with the patients and to get to know their likes and dislikes.”

The system allows for the patients to choose their menus very close to the actual meal times, rather than making menu choices the day before.If patients have a special request between meals, they can just page the catering associate to place an order.

So far the favorites on the menu have been comfort food, Mayes said: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, Denver-style scrambled eggs.And while you can still find Jello on the menu, desserts also encompass Key lime pie and chocolate cake.Depending on the patient’s dietary needs of care.

“Our patient surveys have shown that people are much happier with the food service,” said Mayes.“And it’s only going to get better.”