Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center: Responding to customer demand
“I just wanted to send some quick feedback about the menu. The new lentils dish along with the tofu today were both fantastic! I also especially like when you have legume-based salads as part of the salad bar. In any case, thank you so much for continually expanding the healthy vegetarian options!” - Medical resident at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire is a signatory of the Cool Food Pledge, a new platform to help hospitals offer diners more of what they want while slashing food-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock is one 23 signatories from health care.
Here are some thoughts from Deborah P. Keane, Dartmouth-Hitchcock's director of food and nutrition services:
Why have you focused on plant-centered eating in your facility?
It was just the next step to take in efforts to promote local and sustainably produced foods that are healthy, appealing and delicious. Increasing numbers of customers were asking for more vegetarian and vegan options.
Why did you sign the Cool Food Pledge?
We’ve been tracking our local and sustainably produced foods for almost five years now and have improved our purchases in both arenas. By signing up for the CFP, we hope to see where our efforts have taken us in addressing greenhouse gas reduction.
How does the Cool Food Pledge help to meet your goals?
As a member of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Environmental Sustainability Council, we are setting our next five year goals. The CFP is our main focus in the food domain.
“I joined the Cool Food Pledge because we were already implementing plant-centered meals in our hospital and I wanted to be able to tie our food initiatives with my hospital’s Environmental Sustainability Council’s goals and communicate the progress we are making.” — Deborah Keane, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
How do you sell market plant-based foods to your customers?
Our POS signage includes a picture of the item, detailed ingredient listing, and nutritional information if available.
Have there been any challenges in selling plant-centered dishes?
No. If our “wok” special was miso grilled salmon, we just added miso grilled tofu alongside the salmon. On chicken dosas days, we also offer tofu dosas.
How have sales changed, if at all, after you implemented a plant-centered program?
Sales are increasing. Here’s a specific statistic that we love to share. Our purchases of tofu in 2016 were 280 pounds. In 2018, we purchased 3,108 pounds. We are well on our way to surpass that amount in 2019.
What would you say to a food service director in another part of the country that may have doubts about plant-centered dishes selling in their facility?
Involve your chef and cooking staff in planning. Let them experiment with new recipes that are not normally served. Share any customer comments that you receive with your team and upper management about the new plant-based products.
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