Visitors to New Milford (Conn.) Hospital don't need to ask for directions to the hospital's newly renovated cafeteria because the healthy food eatery opens right into the main lobby.
The lobby and cafeteria were relocated and redesigned when the 85-bed hospital completed renovation of its emergency department in late 2014. Hospital leaders set out to make the cafeteria a focal point of nutritional wellness for the entire community.
The cafeteria's chefs tout their “Plow to Plate” approach, serving healthy, locally sourced meals. They have eliminated processed and fried foods, and regularly consult with local farmers and suppliers to create seasonal menus.
“I see people come in for lunch and breakfast who are regulars because the food is so good,” said Damon deChamplain, administrative director at New Milford Hospital. They “just know it's a good hot meal that's very reasonably priced.”
As more care is shifted to outpatient settings, New Milford is one of a growing number of hospitals seeking new revenue opportunities by making food service operations appealing to the broader community rather than only to people visiting patients.
And in another important shift in food service operations, hospitals send chefs and dietitians into the community to help improve residents' health and assist with the management of post-acute patients.