Hospital food is notoriously bad. So bad, in fact, that it rivals plane food as the go-to joke for many an American sitcom. And despite indisputable evidence of the importance of good nutrition when it comes to health care, many hospitals still offer fast food on the premises (yes, seriously).
There are some establishments, however, that are getting wise. The number of hospitals that offer plant-based options is growing, and The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) recently released a report ranking 24 hospital food programs.
The rankings were based on whether patient menus offer “healthful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cholesterol-free entrées, and soy milk.” Facilities also earned points for Meatless Mondays, gardens, and farmers markets, and lost points for fast food joints on site.
Two hospitals tied for first place: Aspen Valley Hospital, in Aspen, Colo., and Stony Brook University Hospital, in Stony Brook, N.Y. Aspen Valley participates in Meatless Mondays and offers healthy entrées each day, and Stony Brook has a 2,242-square-foot organic rooftop garden that grows veggies and herbs for patient meals.
Other hospitals that made the top 10 include C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y.; and Wexner Medical Center in Columbus,
Ohio; among others.
The hospitals ranked included both public and private and ranged in size. The final selection was drawn from a list of 262 hospitals surveyed (including the 50 largest public hospitals and at least one hospital from each state).
As far as what patients should look for when choosing a hospital: “At the hospitals we ranked, we saw plenty of healthful vegetable and bean side dishes on patient menus—but at most hospitals there was a shortage of healthful, plant-based entrees,” said Jeanne Stuart McVey of PCRM. “So if someone is considering a hospital, he or she should ask about the availability of healthful plant-based entrees.”