CarePoint Health medical facilities are rolling out a slew of activities for National Nutrition Month this March, with the goal of engaging patients and cafeteria customers and boosting their health.
In partnership with Sodexo, the cafeterias of Bayonne Medical Center, Hoboken University Medical Center and Christ Hospital, all in New Jersey, are highlighting healthy foods from different cultures as they move through the month.
Each week ushers in a new focus for diners:
- Week 1: Eating a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups, learning how to read nutrition labels and incorporating favorite cultural foods and traditions.
- Week 2: Seeing a registered dietitian nutritionist and finding one who specializes in an individual’s unique nutritional needs to meet health goals.
- Week 3: Planning healthy meals and snacks, using a grocery list to shop for nutritious foods and choosing healthy foods and drinks away from home.
- Week 4: Preparing tasty foods at home and learning new dishes.
As part of the spotlight on global cuisine, the first week featured Mediterranean food served at Sodexo’s Kalamata concept. A following week, patients will be able to build their own fajita bowls at plant-forward, Mexican-inspired Planta, and another will focus on Indian concept Spice Market, offering traditional dishes like dal and curry.
“It’s the first time we’re using this in our hospitals,” says Jane Pilanski, clinical nutrition manager with Sodexo. “Our team members are going to be very excited.”
To complement the meals, each cafeteria also features a Mindful table. Mindful is Sodexo’s branded wellness platform, used for communication and education.
The tables feature materials about nutrition and how to include cultural foods as part of healthy diet, information from the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and QR codes that direct to the Mindful website for recipes, wellness information and videos.
In addition, cafeteria signage displays recipe demos and nutrition information.
Hospital patients also have a chance to participate. They’re offered a menu item from the week’s culinary theme, along with a “spirit lifter card” that contains fun facts about the featured country’s culture and ways to improve their health related to the food being served.
National Nutrition Month is an opportunity for Pilanski to remind patients and customers that she and her fellow dietitians are available to help with their overall health or conditions like diabetes through year-round counseling, both in-person and virtually.
“It’s really important that they see [registered dietitians] and have one-on-one appointments, and they can work on that disease state,” she says.