Canada hospitals to cut junk food, add healthier choices

Nine hospital representatives have been working on a healthy foods strategy for about a year.

OTTAWA, Canada— Burgers, fries, chocolate bars and sugary desserts could disappear from hospital menus in Eastern Ontario over the next few years, muscled aside by more nutritious items.

Representatives from nine hospitals, including the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the Queensway Carleton, the Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus and CHEO, have been quietly working on a healthy foods strategy for about a year.

For now, the focus is on food sold in hospital cafeterias, vending machines, gift shops and franchises such as Tim Hortons, Subway and Second Cup.

Food audits have found that current offerings include high proportions of nutrient-poor snacks, baked goods, desserts and beverages, along with soups and entrees with high sodium contents. Deep frying and processed meats are prominent, portions are generally too big and whole grains are lacking.

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University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

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Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

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Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

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