By Mary Angela Miller, Guest Blogger
Food & Beverage Product Innovations Award judge Mary Angela Miller, administrative director of the Ohio State University Medical Center explains how to meet the food and beverage needs of over 12,000 patients and healthcare staff every day.
When I was selected as one of the judges for the National Restaurant Association’s first-ever Food & Beverage Product Innovations Awards at NRA Show 2011, I was delighted the Association recognized the importance of innovation in food and beverage products to meet the needs of the healthcare industry. As our healthcare system undergoes arguably the most significant major overhaul in our nation’s history, it serves as a fitting time for us to determine where we can make improvements in how we serve both our patients and our staff.
While it may seem that a healthcare representative would simply need the most health-conscious food and beverage products on the market, I’ll be seeking food and beverage products at the NRA Show that can be efficiently distributed throughout our vastly different foodservice facilities from patient service and catering as well as to our cafés and grab-and-go kiosks.
That being said, a product’s nutrition profile is also a significantly important element of the food and beverages that we serve on our campus. By working for a nationally recognized teaching hospital, I have the added resource of over 40 clinical nutrition professionals on staff that acts as our “brain trust” to define a healthy living profile for our program. While we have a strong grasp of what foods are going to meet the needs of both patients and staff, we are always looking for products that are going to streamline logistics. Whether it’s ease of opening and disposal, shelf-life or portability, we need products that can be used in a lot of different ways! Although it’s not feasible to serve hot meals in a very busy emergency room, we do have foods available that meet the needs of those patients and offer options for family and staff to grab on-the-go.
Of course patients are our priority, but I always say that we are as much in the business of caring for the caregiver as well as the patient. We need to serve both groups: we provide patients with meals that they can eat while ill, but we must also provide our healthcare workers with nutritious options that provide sustenance during their busy day. We continue to see that our staff finds a great value in having satisfying meal options. The healthcare industry continues to be a growing sector in the foodservice industry, and I look forward to seeing products that beat the status-quo and provide a “status-wow” for this 25 year healthcare veteran at the upcoming NRA Show!
I hope to see you at the restaurant and foodservice industry’s “global event” on May 21-24 in Chicago.