Hospital's "Penny a Calorie" Promo a Hit

Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Buffalo has completed a successful launch of its "300-calorie Tuesday" promotion that promises diners a three-dollar 300-calorie ("penny a calorie") healthy meal.

Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Buffalo has completed a successful launch of its "300-calorie Tuesday" promotion to pair with the Meatless Monday initiative implemented by numerous other dining operations. The promo promises diners that they get a tasty, healthful meal for "a penny a calorie" for the specially priced $3 offerings.

It is just one of a series of health and wellness based initiatives instituted by the hospital's foodservice manager Kathy Kubiak-McAlpine.

"It's a way to encourage our customers to try healthier items without forcing it on them," Kubiak-McAlpine says. "We use as many fresh fruits and vegetables as we can while limiting starches, so for example we'll menu a pork, beef or chicken teriyaki with vegetables instead of white rice. We also have tried to substitute fruit like apples for chips as a side dish and people have been very receptive."  

Other healthful initiatives include a "hydration station" featuring fruit/vegetable and herb-infused waters that have replaced bottled beverages in the cafe operation (vending, managed by an outside firm, still offers bottled drinks), and staff are encouraged to use refillable water bottles to cut down on waste.

Kubiak-McAlpine has also arranged with a local grower, Becker Farms, to make deliveries of CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) items ordered by Kenmore Mercy staff directly to the hospital as a convenience. The dining department also gets a free CSA contract out of the arrangement, giving the kitchen some additional local fresh produce to work with.

Kubiak-McAlpine is also planning to start a tranquility garden near the new emergency room where she will grow herbs for use in the dining operation.

Other plans call for expanding the healthful dining promotions further into the week with Weight Watchers Wednesdays (in which the program's point counts would be displayed to help diners make selections), Thirsty Thursdays (offering special healthful drinks like smoothies made with fresh ingredients) and Fryless Fridays (no fried foods).