Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 17, because Scarborough General is redefining hospital food
Ideally, a hospital meal would encourage you to get better. In reality, the lifeless trays of reconstituted food only give patients enough energy to slide everything into the garbage. Scarborough General spends $580,000 a year on patient food and sees as much as 40 per cent of it go uneaten. When the hospital began to investigate the problem, patients told them that the food was insipid. Multi-ethnic patients in particular, for whom home cooking doesn’t mean roast beef, found the chewy grey slices of questionable provenance especially offensive. Last summer, the hospital began to retrain staff, who once stood at a conveyor belt plopping prepackaged meals onto trays, to be real cooks who chop at restaurant-style stations. New menus include global flavours like congee, frittatas with fresh vegetables, made-from-scratch soups and Moroccan chicken with lentil pilaf. Fresh produce is a staple, and plenty of it comes from the supplier 100km Foods, which helps Ontario farmers sell directly to chefs. The food budget hasn’t changed: it’s $6.50 per patient per day. Judging by the empty trays, they’re much less hungry than they used to be.