Niagara University to help enhance hospital’s foodservice program

The college of hospitality and tourism was called upon to design the café and improve patient scores at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

Published in Healthcare Spotlight

“Professor Scott Beahen, the foodservice director for the college of hospitality and tourism management, and I met with [Ruffolo] and members of his team in late January to discuss the new concept that the hospital envisioned for their outdated cafeteria area,” Maher says. “The initial stage is focusing on the new design for this bistro concept. The second phase of this cooperation will address customer service, and we will begin discussions on this aspect of the agreement at the end of April or early May.”

The hospital and university are working with Cannon Design on the cafeteria project. Cannon, headquartered in Chicago but with offices around the country, including Buffalo, N.Y., most recently received an award from the Association of College Unions International for its design of the new Gordon Dining and Events Center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Beahen and a team of three Niagara University students met with Mary Degnan, R.D., director of nutrition services, toured the foodservice facility, interviewed staff and drafted design concepts based on staff input and planned utilization of the space. The team then met with Michael Mistriner, a principal at Cannon, to discuss the concept and review the students’ plans.

Degnan says the project is still in the early stages, although rendering of what the new space could look like have been sketched out. But she notes that the servery will be reconfigured to provide customers with multiple stations offering a variety of healthier food choices, and the overall feel of the space will be more like a bistro. “We will completely transform the foodservice and social experience,” she explains.

In addition to the redesign, the hospital will work with the university to create a program to help the hospital improve its Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. HCAHPS uses the results of patient surveys to grade hospitals on a variety of services, including foodservice. Under the new Affordable Care Act, HCAHPS scores are tied to such items as Medicare and Medicaid funding. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources