I recently drove down to Ocala (forty miles south of where I am here in Gainesville, Florida) to visit an elderly aunt having a few days' stay in a hospital there for a minor problem.
While visiting Aunt Doris, I ate a couple of times in the hospital cafeteria there. My assessment of the food that I had there was that it wasn't bad at all.
And as I was eating I got to thinking about
the past times when I myself had had a meal in a hospital, either as patient or visitor, and I realized that my own culinary experiences with hospital food in the past have been largely positive.
But this seems to be in contrast with a kind of general perception on the web that hospital food is usually bad. If you websearch something like
the majority of hits seem to be mostly of a negative nature, that hospital food is really pretty bad and needs to be improved.
I also found, for one thing, that there doesn't seem to be any national supervising agency in charge of inspecting hospital food services in particular. Such functions seem to be the responsibility of the individual hospitals, local health boards, etc.
Same for evaluating food quality. To the best of my knowledge, no one is giving out 3, 4 or 5 stars (or no stars) to individual hospital cafeterias.
But, as noted, there do seem to be a pretty fair number of websites out there complaining about
And after reading a number of them, I could see that a pattern in the complaints that consisted of two problems in particular: (1) a local food service arrangement (which may not have been all that bad) becomes too expensive, and gets replaced by bringing in a commercial food provider (by setting up a "food court": McDonald's, Wendy's, Chick-fil-A, etc.): money is saved, but quality of food is quite possibly reduced, and (2) inertia: reluctance of hospital leadership to make changes in a food system that is possibly below expectations, but at the same time "isn't broken," so they do nothing.
Another serious issue I found mentioned was the concern of physicians that pre-processed food given to patients from outside vendors might in some cases actually be harmful to some patients. Such as excess salt in meals for hypertension patients, or potassium in those meals for cardiac patients. The physicians were concerned that while it might be possible for a local food preparer to control this sort of food problem, it might not be possible to do so for food coming in from the outside.
Example of an article critical of hospital food:https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ranking-hospital-food-the_b_9178416
Article that's maybe a little more objective (but still has criticisms):https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hospital-food-bad-or-good-for-you-152042.htm
(NOTE: I also read that it gets complicated. Some hospitals have in-house food preparation for patients, but food courts for visitors; some have outside vendors provide all food; some have in-house prepared food for everybody. Again, cost appears to be the big driver here, according to many articles).
But as for the quality of food itself, what has been your own food experience during your past hospital stays, either as patient or visitor? On the whole good, or bad, in most cases? And any suggestions for making it better?
Feel free to check one of the survey boxes above, and/or post below what you think hospitals might be able to do to make their food services better.