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Nutritional makeover leads to more whole grain, low-fat and vegetarian items on Upstate's menus

Nutritional makeover leads to more whole grain, low-fat and vegetarian items on Upstate's menus

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Upstate Medical University’s initiative to increase weekly healthy menu options and promote wellness in its cafés across campus includes expanded selections and new healthy items, as well as upgrades to traditional menu options that now include more whole grain, low-fat and vegetarian ingredients.

Morrison, the contracted food service company that manages Upstate’s Food and Nutrition Services Department, has given Upstate University Hospital café menus an extreme nutritional makeover. So far, weekly initiatives include a more prominent and enhanced fruit bar, a wider selection of fresh fruit offerings, the revamping of the salad bar to feature more seasonal ingredients, including whole grain salads, homemade low fat dressings, Chia and pumpkin seeds, plus more gluten-free deli options. And it’s also increasing the “Small Bites” dessert offerings, marketing Smartfood Snack items, and providing the option for egg white omelets or sandwiches at breakfast.

In August, Morrison introduced lower-calorie deli round specialty sandwiches and began offering fruit smoothies between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. and between 2 and 3 p.m. several days each month.

Other changes diners will see include a greater variety in the Outtakes section to include healthier Grab and Go items, such as whole grain salads, assorted gourmet small-portion healthy choice salads.

“We will gradually increase healthy food choices each week,” said Thomas Towne, senior director at Upstate’s Food and Nutrition Services. “Many of these healthy options have always been there, but we are creating more awareness by bringing them to the forefront.”

Across the country, hospitals are taking the pledge to support the use of nutritious, local, and sustainably produced food. This demonstrates a commitment to “first, do no harm” as part of the approach by hospitals to preventive medicine that protects the health of people living in their communities.

“We want people to be informed and aware of the healthy food choices they have,” Towne said. “ We are working closely with the hospital’s Pathway to Wellness program to support health promotion at Upstate.”

Providing access to healthier food promotes wellness and good eating habits among patients, visitors, and staff. Upstate’s initiative is in line with the “Healthy Food in Health Care Food Service Contractor Pledge” that Morrison signed in 2009, when they became the first major national food service company to make the commitment to improve the health of local and global communities.