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Feeding the sick

(article, Culinate staff)

On the blog Lettuce Eat Kale (cross-posted on Civil Eats), food writer Sarah Henry recently wrote about her horrible experience with hospital food: "The eggs are gray and watery. The vegetables limp and tired. There’s the ubiquitous Jell-O cups."

Sure, hospitals are institutions, forced to feed hundreds if not thousands of people every day. But as Henry notes, "When you’re sick . . . having something healthy, comforting, and aesthetically pleasing to eat is critical."

So Henry went looking for food reformers in the hospital world. She found Lucia Sayre, the director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Alison Negrin, the executive chef at John Muir Health. Both are trying to make their local hospitals into places that heal with food as well as with medicine.

Of course, fixing hospital food ain't a quick fix; as John Birdsall reported in the East Bay Express, it took Negrin three years to get a soup recipe changed. But, Birdsall noted, change may indeed be coming: "Compared with the healthy-school-lunch movement, hospital food reform is still the preemie in the incubator, but the idea has created buzz."