Firsthand foodservice experience

A sudden illness gave Lindsey Ramsey a rare opportunity to sample hospital food as a patient.

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

In my five years at FoodService Director, I’ve visited many operations to see the sights and taste the food. Mostly, I’ve visited college campuses where my sense memory from my time in college still informed my opinion of the food. The same could be said of the few schools I’ve visited. But I have never been a patient in a hospital until last week, so I felt it was my duty as an editor to report on the food I was served while there.

I was there as a result of a bad sinus infection that spread to my eye, so despite a swollen-shut blinker I was perfectly fine. My first 24 hours in the hospital I wasn’t allowed to eat anything, in case my eye required surgery, so I spent the time dreaming about food of all kinds. My friends brought me snacks from the vending machine so I’d be ready when I got the word. About 10:30 p.m. I was told I could eat until midnight, which was a blessing because I thought I was going to pass out from hunger. The nurses gave me a ham sandwich and a ginger ale, which would never be on my list of favorites, but at that moment were the best foods I have ever eaten.

I was in the hospital for five full days. I ate the hospital-provided breakfasts and lunches; dinner was usually brought to me from visiting friends. For breakfast, I kept things simple and sampled French toast, pancakes, an omelet and, finally, cereal. For lunch, my dishes included meat lasagna, a turkey burger with cheese and pasta with meatballs. I found things to be very hit or miss, which was not always the hospital's fault. I had a roommate who was in a lot of pain, which kept me up late at night, so I often slept late. This caused me to wake to a breakfast that was already cold. So the French toast and omelet definitely suffered from my sleep deprivation. The meat lasagna was the best thing I had. It was comforting, tasty and cooked well. The pasta with meatballs was way overcooked, but still edible. The turkey burger on the other hand was a gray mess of mystery meat, dunked in cheese. I only managed a few bites of it before giving up and just eating its side dish of roasted potatoes.

The experience left me in awe of many of the hospitals we write about every day. I was sad that my particular hospital didn’t have room service or retail delivery like some of the hospitals we have covered in FSD. But I was able to see just how much comfort food in the hospital can provide. And though not every dish was a hit, it still gave me something to look forward to every day.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources