Pediatric menu now features nutritionals

Published in Wellness Watch

Nemours Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children has become one of the first hospitals in the nation to include nutrition information on its pediatric patient menu. In addition to such information as carbohydrate count, calories and portion size, the menus also help patients’ families select items that meet certain dietary requirements, such as allergen free or gluten free.

Joe McLaughlin, director of nutrition services for Sodexo at this 200-bed facility, in Wilmington, Del., says the process took nearly 10 months to complete. “This move came out of our commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America,” McLaughlin explains. “One of the criteria for being part of this was that all menus had to reflect all nutrition information. We had been doing this for quite some time in our cafeteria, but this turned out to be a really challenging undertaking.”

To accomplish the task, McLaughlin pulled together a team of his staff, clinical dietitians and even parents of some of the patients in the hospital. They reviewed all potential menu items, not only to make sure that all necessary information was included but also to draft menus that reflected a healthier bent overall.

“We have crafted menus that kind of direct you toward choosing healthier items,” he explains. “They are the first items you find on the menus. For example, if we have 10 entrée choices, the first five are going to be healthier items. In addition, those items are highlighted with our Mindful logo [Sodexo’s wellness program].