Wellness, sustainability program helps employees "walk the walk"

Jeannette DeJesus, left, Emergency Department registrar, PFAS, and Lauren Meigh, admitting associate, PFAS, enjoy the wide range of healthy choices the cafeteria offers them.
Jeannette DeJesus, left, Emergency Department registrar, PFAS, and Lauren Meigh, admitting associate, PFAS, enjoy the wide range of healthy choices the cafeteria offers them.

The granola bars, fruit and other healthy snacks that have popped up at the cafeteria cash registers are visible signs of a program that aims to improve the health of employees — and the environment.

The healthier offerings are part of a wellness and sustainability program the hospital has instituted with Morrison Healthcare Food Services, its food services vendor. Other changes in the York Street and Saint Raphael cafeterias include fewer fried foods and sugary beverages, more whole grains, organic meat, dairy and produce and more detailed labels on food items so employees can make informed decisions on what to eat. In addition, chefs are using cooking techniques that involve less sodium, fat and calories and serving weekly chef's specials made with healthy ingredients, said Dorothy DeCaprio, director, Food and Nutrition Services.

"Our focus is wellness for patients, employees and visitors," she said. "We've made meals healthier while maintaining great taste."

To help employees bring healthy eating home, chefs are providing healthy cooking demonstrations and the cafeterias are offering printed information on healthy eating and sustainability.

Sustainability means choosing foods that are grown, produced and distributed in ways that are better for the environment, said Cristina DeVito, support services administrator, Environmental Services. These include organic fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides, produce, dairy and meat from local farms, cage-free eggs and other, more humanely produced food. DeVito said employees have provided positive feedback on these changes.

"People have been asking for this," she said."They're pleased to see that the hospital is committed to helping patients, employees and visitors eat the foods that are best for their health and the health of the environment."

Serving healthy, sustainable food also sends a message to patients and the community, she added.

"We work for an organization dedicated to improving health, and people expect us to set a good example," DeVito said. "We have to walk the walk and talk the talk."