Clues to Patient Food Quality Found in Hospital Cafeterias

On the surface, hospital cafeteria offerings and atmosphere may seem completely independent from patient foodservice. Typically, cafeterias service employees and visitors, but with the recent changes in healthcare foodservice, many visitors view the retail side as a reflection of the overall foodservice quality for patients.

Cafeteria Makeover

The idea of hiring a seasoned hotel chef for menu makeover projects has become a reality for many hospitals that offer room service programs. With this resource available in-house, hospitals can turn their institutional retail cafeterias into attractive restaurants that offer a similar menu and ambiance as local restaurants. In 2013, Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis opened its new cafeteria, Central Table. Designed to be more like a full-service restaurant than a traditional hospital cafeteria, the eatery features an open kitchen, made-from-scratch seasonal selections, and food so nicely presented that patrons regularly review it on Yelp.

Long-term Pay-off

There are certainly complicating factors involved in revamping hospital cafeterias, menu offerings and patient foodservice, but the long-term payoffs are significant. Hospitals with cafeterias that rival popular restaurants get buzz in the press and receive positive attention from their communities and as a result attract outside customers and generate more revenue. Cafeteria_TrayThe perception of low quality-low price hospital retail food is slowly diminishing as more operators offer higher quality at a price compatible with nearby restaurants.

Reinvest in Upgrades

Maintaining quality room service becomes easier when some of the retail revenue is used to cover the cost. If the retail cafeteria is successfully managed, the revenue will not only cover the salary of the in-house chef but also the cost of upgrading foodservice equipment, whether the need is for a new quiet room service cart, trays or tray tops, that can improve staff efficiency and patient satisfaction.

“When making the decision to upgrade your retail space, remember the most important element to that change is your nutrition department employees. Provide them with the tools, training, resources and support especially within customer service. For these very people are those who will provide an exceptional experience to your customers, which will affect your bottom line”, says Mark Dyball Executive Chef/Principal Consultant and Owner of Healthcare Culinary Solutions.

It’s a popular phrase that people eat with their eyes, and it’s rooted in truth. Hospitals can find success by paying as much attention toward their cafeteria layouts, food packaging, colors and visual presentation as they do toward excellent food quality for patients.

For options about retail cafeteria and patient food service solutions that can help improve the quality of your operation, contact your local Cambro Healthcare Representative.

1 reply »

  1. It will be interesting to observe the transformation of standards as more healthcare cafeterias continue to focus on the quality of both room service and visitor retail meal options. Very insightful article.

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