44. Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minn.
Licensed Beds: 894
Foodservice Head: William Marks, director of food, nutrition & environmental services
Avg. Daily In-patient Census: 380
Avg. No. In-patient Meals/Day: 1,064
No. of Retail Dining Outlets: 4
Total Annual Retail Sales: nr
Dining/Nutrition Services FTEs: nr
Hennepin County Medical Center switched to a self-operated dining program recently, and like many other hospitals across the country it is expanding its physical footprint with the addition of a new building. Patient service is managed by a host/hostess system, with the foodservice employee taking orders bedside through iPads. The system utilizes a cook-chill process. One interesting note from the patient foodservice side is the use of specific herbs, ground on a garden outside the main café, in the maternity unit. The herbs are supposed to help mothers right after they give birth. The foodservice department also recently purchased a milkshake machine, and any time a patient asks for a milkshake they receive one. The idea is to help those patients heal by getting nutrients into their body when they often have no appetite—after all, who turns down a milkshake? Being an inner city medical center, Hennepin also serves a portion of prison patients. Those meals are served buffet style, with two entrée choices offered.
Hennepin’s main café serves food from a variety of stations, including the typical deli, pizza and salad bar. Last year the café did $3 million in sales, about 80 percent of which was done at lunch. There are three branded coffee shops on campus, which are sub contracted to a local company.
Perhaps the highlight of Hennepin’s foodservice program is its Food Shelf, which is tucked in a room in the basement level of the hospital. The Food Shelf provides meals for more than 7,600 people each month (more than 100,000 meals are served each year). The Food Shelf started from a pediatric doctor who wanted to do something to make a difference to help eradicate hunger—many doctors note malnutrition and hunger among their patients. Through donations of time, money and products, the shelf began five years ago as a small operation. Bill Marks, who helps run the Food Shelf along with other hospital departments, hopes that when the new building is finished there will be a larger, more prominent space for the Food Shelf and that he’ll be able to host cooking demonstrations to help those receiving food items learn how to cook healthy meals. Four hundred bags are distributed from the Food Shelf each week to area clinics. People can also pick up bags from the Food Shelf room at the hospital. Those who qualify for the free meals are at poverty levels of 200 percent. The hospital is looking to start a new program with the Food Bank where qualified individuals are given a specific dollar amount for which they can go and pick out items they would want instead of being given a prepackaged meal bag.