POTSDAM -- Menu options at Canton-Potsdam Hospital are changing for the healthier as its Nutrition Services Department offers more heart-healthy menu options and partnerships with local food co-ops and markets.
“We are a hospital. It’s important for us to lead by example when it comes to the food offerings we make available to our patients and employees,” said Director of Nutrition Services Stave Gadapee. “But change of this nature also requires an educational and cultural transition, so we’re trying to be considerate of the expectations of our customers by making incremental changes over a reasonable period of time.” The goal is not to eliminate all traditional fare from patient menus and the cafeteria, but to feature and promote an increased number of healthier options.
“Heart Healthy,” according to Gadapee, involves many factors, including:
• food that is purchased and prepared in a healthier manner to reduce calories, fats, bad cholesterol and sodium
• promoting good eating habits and a well-balanced diet
• baking many foods instead of frying
• serving fewer commercially prepared breaded foods to reduce sodium, saturated fats and carbohydrates
• having fewer red meats and more fish options on the menu
• offering more whole grains and brown rice and less processed grains.
With the support and encouragement from members of the hospital’s medical staff, a number of changes have already been implemented, according to Gadapee. Café selections include choices like turkey and vegetable burgers, Greek yogurt, fewer processed foods, more vegetarian soups, a larger selection of baked entrees and steamed vegetables, and “super foods” like oatmeal available every weekday morning. As an incentive to select healthier options, many of those choices are offered at a reduced cost. Iced tea is now available as an alternative to sodas. Bottled waters and juices have also been increased. New equipment is planned in the café to increase healthy “grab and go” salad selections along with low calorie and low fat prepared sandwiches and desserts. He’s also been working with local vending machine retailers to include healthier vending options.
Local vegetables will be used during the growing season in the Café and on patient menus. A “chef’s choice” option will allow Gadapee to secure vegetables from local food cooperatives. He is also working on developing, in the café, a farmers’ market display for visitors and staff that promotes healthier food options locally.
A new patient menu will be introduced soon. Dessert offerings will emphasize fruits and healthier dessert options. The menu will contain fewer fats by featuring less gravy and breaded foods.
Gadapee is part of a hospital-wide wellness initiative spearheaded by Occupational Health Nurse Eydie Bovay and a committee of hospital staff members. The program is being funded, in part, by a grant from the St. Lawrence County Health Initiative. Registered Dietician Elizabeth Isenberg is a frequent presenter at hospital programs, community organizations, and school groups, where she explains he benefits of sound eating habits.
For more information, visit www.cphospital.org or call CPH Nutrition Services at 261-5348.