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Hospitals Getting a Food Makeover: April 27, 2013

Say farewell to mystery meat and fatty foods. As part of a growing trend, Lee Memorial Health System is getting a food makeover.

“We improved our overall entrée selection set by about 300%. The patient probably had four entrée options every day. Now they have 14,” says Larry Altier, Director food and nutrition with Lee Memorial Health System.

It’s not only patients that will feast in the changes. Visitors and staff eating in any of the cafeterias will find more emphasis on healthy choices.

“We use a lot of fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, fresh proteins,” says Pat Agent, executive chef with Lee Memorial Health System.

Chef Agent is tasked with implementing a new menu, that’s less dependent on fryers, salts and fat.

“There’s a lot of vegetarian entrees, we do a lot of fish on the menu, a lot of chicken, turkey. It cooks in its own juices and if you put herbs and vegetables in it, makes it a whole lot better,” says Agent.

A food revolution is a big commitment. This 38,000 square foot facility was the final ingredient. With this mega culinary kitchen, the health system took over its own food production.

“We have the ability now and the space and the capacity, we inspect every product that comes in the back door. Especially our produce and protein products,” says Altier.

They control what comes in, and what goes out. Ensuring the final product is sound and nutritious.

“A pot roast - we gather up all the potatoes, the onions, the carrots, the celery and the roast here. We trim that, we clean that, and we make it ready for you to put it into the pot. That’s how we work,” says Altier.

It boils down to catering to the needs of consumers and serving as an example of good nutrition.