Friday, April 20, 2012

Redefining Hospital Food (TedxTO)

That's what I am talking about!!!   I worked at Sunnybrook Hospital for 14 years and each year I worked there I saw the food get progressively worse.  More fast food, less nutrition.   Even for people working there or visiting the hospital.   I once sent an email to the person in charge of food services and her reply was that there were healthy options.  Her healthy options were a bowl of bananas, oranges and apples and some random bland salads.  The so called vegetables were from frozen processed vegetables with a huge amount of sodium.  So much that I would regularly buy lunch and take a bite and all I would taste was salt and would then end up throwing the whole thing out because I either knew they wouldn't accept that it was horrible or because I didn't have the time to take it back.    When my mother was in the hospital she routinely refused the food and ended up dying because she refused to eat after being in and out of hospitals for the last month of her life.

You need proper nutrition to be healthy so I never understood why hospital administration and government didn't get the connection between feeding patients foods that would speed their healing, therefore leaving their hospital beds sooner and returned less often.

I believe the lack of proper care, nutrition and cleanliness contributed to my mother's death but there isn't much I can do about it now and couldn't do much about it at the time because you sign releases so that you give up your right to do anything about it.

People have accepted that you are going to get bad food when you are in the hospital and they either don't eat or they have family members bring them food.  I would always try and bring food when I could.  But that's not the answer if the food they do serve is just wasted.  They spend a lot of money to purchase, store, sort, assemble trays, wheel the trays around the hospital, collect the trays and then dispose of the un eaten food.  If the politicians want to cut the waste this is a good thing to look at to change.

Look for solutions in places like poor communities where they have community gardens and they have food education programs or breakfast programs.

In a hospital what would it cost to have a rooftop garden or purchase in season products from local farmers and serve fresh carrots or fresh strawberries.  

Wouldn't you prefer a bowl of made from whole ingredient chicken soup instead of something that came out of a can.

Think of the power all the hospitals in Toronto would have on the Eco system of Toronto.  
What if they received WHOLE local Food and went back to the old system of having chefs prepare the food for the patients fresh everyday.   Instead of buying tons of packaged products they have to store on site for months at a time.     What if they flipped the model and spent less energy storing food and getting fresh food supplies everyday and spending the time preparing the food instead of disposing the un eaten food products and the packaging.

Think of how much energy would be saved in the large truck transport it takes to ship all the cheap packaged foods from who knows where they come from.     If the hospital staff are preparing whole foods they could put the food scraps into a composter that could help grow real plants in the hospital that would clean the air in the hospitals.  What if they spent less money on trucking the garbage away to the dumps?  

What if they grew some food on site in green house roof top gardens?  No shipping required.   No packaging required.

If so many individual families are trying to change back to this model why can't a large government funded organization follow suit?

I spent a year and a half visiting my mother in a long term care facility where there were lovely staff trying to get their patients to eat the horrible food they were forced to dish out.  If I was old and frail the last thing I would want is to be forced to eat some dried up bland mushy overcooked looking thing.   It occured to me that what if they were equipped with Juicers and were provided fresh fruits and vegetables that they could just juice up on the spot to provide instant full vitamin nutrition based on the likes and needs of the patients?

Why have we accepted the poor form of healthcare when it comes to food nutrition?   Why has it become acceptable?   Who is paying for this?  WE ALL ARE!

Please make it STOP and make food a priority for the aging population that will over run our hospitals in the near future.

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