British Columbia

Fraser Health pilot program aims to take the bland out of hospital food

Chicken caesar salad, Moroccan soup and lasagna made with cottage cheese — these are just some of the meals being offered in an effort to buck the trend of bland hospital food.

Pilot program at Eagle Ridge Hospital now expanding to other hospitals

Elaine Chu is the support services manager at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Coquitlam. (Catherine Rolfsen/CBC)

Chicken caesar salad, Moroccan soup and lasagna made with cottage cheese — these some of the meals offered as part of a Fraser Health pilot program, which aims to buck the trend of bland hospital food.

The pilot began at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody, where support services manager Elaine Chu revamped the menu. It's now being rolled out at several other Fraser Health hospitals and care centres.

Chu, a registered dietitian, said the new offerings go beyond the primary goal of improved nutritional value.

The new chicken caesar salad on Eagle Ridge Hospital's revamped menu. (Jacqueline Blackwell)

"Taste, variety, look — they are all important," she said.

"When you bring that tray in front of any patient they look at it first, and so the colour needs to be appealing, and then of course the taste, the flavour those are very important, as important as the nutritional value."

'Quinoa is not a hit'

Chu tested the menu on the elderly residents of Eagle Ridge Manor, a residential care facility located on the hospital grounds.

She said there were a few meals that struck out with the seniors, such as when her team tried to use the "trendy" high protein grain quinoa in a salad, along with some vegetables and chicken.

"We thought, 'Oh, it looks so good, colourful, nutritious, high protein,' however the seniors did not enjoy it. Quinoa is not a hit," she laughed.

"We had high expectations on that product and we spent quite a bit of time coming up with a dressing and everything, but it didn't go well and we learned something."

Chu prepares a big batch of lasagna with cottage cheese, a tomato meat sauce and spinach. (Catherine Rolfsen/CBC)

When The Early Edition visited the Eagle Ridge Hospital, Chu and her team were preparing their green caesar salad served with chicken and some orange slices ("and with a chocolate chip cookie, just as a treat," Chu said) as well as a large batch of lasagna, using cottage cheese, a tomato meat sauce and spinach.

Chu said serving food in a hospital is a "challenging task", but said she strives to make the patients' hospital experience as pleasant as possible.

"We know that the majority of our patients they do enjoy the providing of the meal and they enjoy the care that we put into the making of the food," she said.

"So to me, my mission is to find what the patients would eat and provide [that] to them and make the hospital stay more enjoyable."

With files from CBC's The Early Edition

hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Fraser Health pilot program offers more nutritious and delicious hospital food


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