Hospitals create custom cuisine for patients

Special diets require chefs to use creativity to satisfy patient customers.

Feb. 21—Creating made-to-order dishes has become second nature to many hospital chefs, especially those trying to help very ill people enjoy their food. Pnina Peled, executive chef at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, recently was challenged to feed a teenage cancer patient who wanted pizza, but because of the patient's chemotherapy treatments, her taste buds were dulled and she could only taste lemon.

"This kid liked Italian food, and we couldn't think of a lemon-flavored pizza because we kept thinking of tomato sauce," says Ms. Peled told The Wall Street Journal. After some trial and error, the chef created a pizza with a lemon Alfredo sauce for the young patient. "We made it for her three or four times in a month because she kept requesting it," Ms. Peled says.

Along with updating menus with healthier options, hospitals must create food that caters to a variety of medical needs such as gastric-bypass, cardiac, diabetic and cancer-related food challenges.

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The dining team at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., has updated the halal offerings at its student center after student concerns of cross-contamination and mislabeling, The Hofstra Chronicle reports.

After listening to students, the center’s halal options were moved from a self-serve line to a hot entree station. The dining team also updated its signage to better indicate which meals are halal.

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Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., has debuted a mini food truck on campus, The Daily News reports.

Dining staff say the truck was introduced to give students more dining options as well as reaffirm the school’s commitment to sustainability.

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