As a healthcare foodservice director, you might be taking cues from your restaurant and retail counterparts. The healthcare segment at large is embracing new trends such as sustainable and local sourcing, as well as healthier options, in order to add to patient satisfaction and the bottom line—while banishing the stereotype of tasteless hospital food.1
Consider these key trends as you rethink your dining program:
Source Sustainable, Local Produce
Say goodbye to bland! Some healthcare foodservice operations are hiring executive chefs to improve menus with nutritious, fresh food in place of traditional processed meals. Other facilities are even inviting local farmers to sell produce in their parking lots and lobbies to help educate patients and guests on nutrition, sustainability and environmental stewardship.1
Overlook Medical Center in Summit, New Jersey, is setting the standard for local sourcing. The healthcare facility has organic gardens and eight beehives that have produced nearly 400 pounds of honey. Since the gardens don’t yet produce enough to significantly lower costs, the hospital has partnered with a local farm to supplement produce. They get a weekly delivery of whatever the farmer has to offer, and they work those fresh items into their daily specials.2
At the very least, consider offering patients and guests a variety of gourmet or healthy options prepared with locally grown ingredients, both made to order and on-demand.
Reduce or Eliminate Additives and Antibiotics
The biggest modification of all might come from the growing concern for food allergens and additives. Consumers are increasingly more conscious of what they eat and the effect food has on their health.3 When it comes to meat consumption, many consumers have growing concerns around antibiotics, hormones and preservatives.4
Additionally, many healthcare professionals have growing concerns about the rising global incidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.5 The healthcare community has been instituting policies to help combat antibiotic resistance in patient care and to minimize exposure to unnecessary antibiotics,6 such as those that might be found in conventional meats. These new policies will mean more changes in the healthcare foodservice segment as the demand for healthier, antibiotic-free and organic meat continues to grow.
Some establishments are even going so far as to sign pledges showing their commitment to antibiotic-free proteins. A total of 29 hospitals have signed the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) Antibiotic Stewardship Commitment, pledging to purchase and serve at least one meat item that is raised without routine antibiotics. The pledge, in collaboration with the Health Care Without Harm movement, aligns with the Centers for Disease Control’s assertion that the rising rate of antibiotic resistance is the "most pressing public health concern of our time.”7
High-quality proteins like PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER products can help satisfy the increasing demands of both healthcare professionals and consumers. PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® adheres to the strictest guidelines of food integrity, providing operators with a full selection of flavorful, 100% vegetarian-fed chicken, turkey and select beef products. All are produced with high-quality ingredients, no artificial additives and NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER. If you’re looking to elevate your offerings even further, PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® Organic chicken is available nationwide.*
Menu offerings highlighting locally sourced ingredients, premium proteins and sustainability can help the healthcare industry show its holistic commitment to better health. As an operator with a unique responsibility for feeding patients, healthcare professionals and family members, consider using these tips and PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® products as you evolve your foodservice program.
*HARVESTLAND® Organic Frozen Chicken available nationwide; HARVESTLAND® Organic Fresh Chicken available in limited markets.
1 Becker’s Hospital Review, “Hospitals are hungry for changes in food service,” Apr. 1, 2015, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/hospitals-are-hungry-for-changes-in-food-service.html
2 Sanborn, Beth Jones, “Hospital cafeteria upgrades focus on choice, health, improved patient experience,” Mar. 28,
3 Satson, Elwood D., Younger Consumers Are Trending Toward More Health-Conscious Eating, Hffington Post, Apr. 10,
4 Refrigerated & Frozen Foods, “Study: Restaurant Patrons Want Menu Transparency for Meat, Poultry,” June 16, 2016, https://www.refrigeratedfrozenfood.com/articles/91080-study-restaurant-patrons-want-menu-transparency-for-meat-poultry
5 Donohue, Brian, UW Medical Center opts for antibiotic-free pork, poultry, University of Washington Health Sciences,
Apr. 7, 2014, http://hsnewsbeat.uw.edu/story/uw-medical-center-opts-antibiotic-free-pork-poultry
6 Catholic Health System—Buffalo, Kenmore Mercy Hospital Cafeteria Serving Up Antibiotic Free Chicken, May 15, 2014,
7 Buzalka, Mike, “29 Massachusetts hospitals take antibiotic-free pledge,” Food Management, March 8, 2016, http://www.food-management.com/news-trends/29-massachusetts-hospitals-take-antibiotic-free-pledge