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Thursday, February 2, 2023

NYC Health + Hospitals Now Serving Culturally-Diverse Plant-Based Meals

By A Correspondent

(Photo via Health+Hospitals)

NYC Health + Hospitals has announced it is now offering plant-based dishes as the primary dinner option for inpatients at all of its 11 public hospitals.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, Harlem, and South Brooklyn Health joined the system’s other acute care sites serving 14 new, tasty “chef’s choice” meals to hospitalized patients, Health+Hospitals said in a statement.

The meals are inspired by the flavors of Latin America, Asia, and other places that represent the system’s diverse patient population. NYC Health + Hospitals serves 3 million meals a year, and the system expects to serve about 850,000 plant-based meals in 2023. NYC Health + Hospitals plans to expand the plant-based menu options to its five post-acute care facilities in early 2023.

The plant-based lunch and dinner programs at NYC Health + Hospitals expand on the healthcare system’s successful ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative launched in 2019, in collaboration with then-Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, which resulted in a 95 percent satisfaction rate among eligible patients.

“Healthy food is a medicine that all New Yorkers should have access to,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This is personal to me — a plant-based lifestyle helped save my life, and I’m thrilled that now all NYC Health + Hospitals are now serving plant-based dinners as the primary option. This nation-leading program means over 850,000 plant-based meals will be served annually at NYC Health + Hospitals, putting all of our patients on a path to a healthier life.”

“Having a delicious and nourishing meal just makes the day better. Whether it is Caribbean, Italian, Russian, Ethiopian, or other tastes from around the city and the world, it feeds the body and the soul. NYC Health + Hospitals’ expansion of plant-based options to all sites for the lunch and dinner menus gets this just right, with various cuisine offerings and with knowledgeable Food Services Associates that interact with patients in an effort to educate them about the food-health connection and what menu offerings might be a little taste of home,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Thank you to the team at NYC Health + Hospitals that continue to innovate in the food space and drive toward supporting health at every turn.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals is taking a significant step forward in acknowledging the role of plant-based food in patient care with the expansion of this program. Access to culturally diverse, nutritious food in our hospitals helps introduce healthy diets and habits that patients can maintain once discharged. With the assistance of the NYC Health + Hospitals Food Service team and registered dieticians, the city is educating patients about the benefits of plant-powered diets and strategies to implement them in their daily lives empowering New Yorkers to make healthier food choices,” said the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie, MS, RD.

“Science shows that a plant-based diet helps fight off disease, something that’s critical as New Yorkers find themselves in the throes of a ‘tripledemic,’” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “Plant-based meals also help treat some of the chronic illnesses that cause many of our patients to wind up in the hospital. The expansion of our program will help get them on a healthier path.”

NYC Health + Hospitals’ 140 Food Service Associates meet with patients to educate them about the benefits of a plant-based diet and encourage them to choose the new meals as part of their healing and recovery plan of care. The same person records the patient’s meal selection on an iPad, delivers the tray to them, asks how they’re enjoying the food, and can replace the patient’s meal upon request. If necessary, they can connect patients with a registered dietician who can provide them with more information and counsel them about nutrition. The Food Service Associate assists patients until they are discharged from the hospital.

Scientific research has shown that plant-based eating patterns are linked to significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers. They can also be effective for weight management as well as the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

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