The young patients at St. Jude are fighting life-threatening illnesses, and they need food that will not only nourish, but provide comfort. Chefs Rick Farmer and Michael Vetro cook meals that heal, pairing each patient’s nutritional needs with their favorite foods.

The children come from diverse backgrounds and often crave the tastes of home, so the chefs have researched and cooked dishes from Korea, Peru, Croatia, Syria and other countries, sourcing authentic ingredients to get the flavors right. Essential nutrients help the body fight disease, but these dishes provide emotional well-being.

Plant-forward menus are gaining ground on menus, for both St. Jude patients and the 5,000 staff members the chefs feed daily. Farmer has developed a number of Mediterranean-inspired vegetable-centric items that feature less animal protein. And the dining program works closely with local farmers and sources from the hospital’s own garden to get the freshest, most nutritious produce.