Montefiore was one of the first hospital systems to earn the gold star from the New York City Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene for its Healthy Hospital Initiatives. In 2017, it launched Meatless Mondays, easing into the program by initially holding it only once a month but ramping up to all Mondays with a whole-food plant-based focus by the end of the year. To facilitate the effort, the Humane Society brought its culinary team to Montefiore to assist in training its cooks on vegan cuisine and cooking last September, with an additional week of training scheduled for this coming November.
Montefiore has also re-introduced cooking demonstrations in its cafeteria focusing on plant-based nutrition, with demos and tastings featuring topics like ancient grains, the Impossible burger and recipes that can be made quickly at home from retail products and produce purchased at the hospital retail outlet. One example: a homemade guacamole for Cinco De Mayo, when customers were able to buy a bag full of all the ingredients they needed to make the dip.
Montefiore’s onsite retail market carries items such as ancient grain blends, teas, herbs, seasonings and fresh produce. There is also a weekly outdoor farmers’ market, with an emphasis on local produce, while the cafeterias have decreased their red meat offerings and are moving to antibiotic-free meats.
The hospital has also implemented a waste reduction program, eliminated plastic stirrers in favor of wood and is currently reducing all plastic products in a rolling transition to replace plastics with compostable items. Waste is being tracked in the cafeterias.
Meal options are made available on iPads to patients in the CHAM and adult units as needed, and Montefiore continues to use foodservice patient advocates in all areas of the hospital. The advocates provide comfort snacks, meal replacements and beverages and snacks to friends and family who are visiting patients at no charge.
In addition, CHAM provides meals free of charge to all parents and/or family and guests of patients, as well as an early morning continental breakfast for parents who are leaving for work. Also, each quarter it hosts a Parent and Leader Luncheon for the parents of CHAM patients to meet hospital staff and make connections.
Montefiore claims to be the first hospital in New York City to offer a full plant-based patient diet, which started on the cardiology floors and has since expanded to all units for all patients. This diet has replaced the traditional vegan diet order system-wide and plant-based diet entrees have now started to be included on the regular adult in-patient menus (CHAM already has some plant-based options). The next step, launching this year and continuing into 2019, is a focus on the “flexitarian” diet model.