Hospitals adding Indian concept to cater to foreign-born employees

Cafe Spice, Sodexo branded partnership helps directors offer authentic ethnic food.

In the cafeteria of Hurley Medical Center, in Flint, Mich., a doctor walks up to the steam trays at the Cafe Spice kiosk, takes a spoon, and flicks two grains of rice pulao into his mouth. He chews for several seconds, then walks to the other side of the counter and samples another batch. After careful deliberation, the doctor forgets the rice, takes two naan breads, douses his plate with mint chutney, and sits at a table with his colleagues—doctors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. All of them have been eating curries, biryanis, and other Indian staples every day for lunch and dinner since the Cafe Spice kiosk opened here last summer.

“Before, we were eating a lot of mac and cheese,” groans Dr. Rao Mushtaq, a general practitioner originally from Pakistan. “My first year here my cholesterol shot up dangerously high,” echoes Dr. Vishwas Vaniawala, an Indian pediatrician. “Honestly, I used to skip lunches because I was sick of eating salads and sandwiches and chips.”

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The staff members, who will be let go in June, include nine full-time and three part-time workers. Students say they will miss the employees and the access to fresh food.

The Orange County Community College Association, which oversees the school’s cafeterias, says the layoffs were partly due to a $150,000 deficit accumulated by foodservice operations last year.

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Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, is eliminating paper cups in its Commons dining hall and has given each student a reusable stainless steel mug as a replacement, bates.edu reports.

The mugs were distributed via a promotion earlier this week where students could fill their new mugs with a free smoothie. Stickers and other trinkets were set out for students to use to “bling” their mugs.

Dining services turned to students to determine which type of mug would be offered. The college also installed a mug-washing sink in the dining Commons earlier this year.

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“With this partnership, we have the opportunity to tell stories and connect with people through food on an entirely new level,” Andres said in a release.

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