Photos by: Andrew Wellman (Diane) and Fletcher Allen Health Care (Garden)
Great hospital food is no longer an impossible dream. At Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington,
Vt., nutritional director Diane Imrie has created an innovative program for feeding patients and
visitors. Here’s why she’s Dash’s first food hero:
So what’s the secret to great hospital food?
We have a team of chefs who cook everything fresh to order using mostly local ingredients.
The cafeteria offers the best deal around, like grilled salmon with pesto, a vegetable, and rice
for less than $6, so it’s always busy.
How does this work for the patients?
They choose from a menu, as if it’s room service, and their food is cooked fresh to order.
They can even get homemade chicken broth (our chef decided to make it when we started buying whole
chickens, not boneless parts, from a local farmer).
What inspired you to make changes?
Food is an integral part of prevention and healing. This year, we put in a rooftop garden
[at right] where patients can stroll. The labels on the vegetables and fruits explain, for example,
why a tomato or a plum is good for you. There’s a kids’ tasting garden, too. They can eat anything
How does this affect the bottom line?
Costs have gone up, but revenue has gone up quicker, so it’s been very profitable. Plus by
buying food from local farmers, we put more than $1 million a year back into our community. That
keeps people healthy because they have jobs!
Do you know a food hero? Write and tell us at email@example.com.
Joanna Prisco is Dashboard's faithful editor. When not feverishly
writing articles about tasty trends and recipes, she can be found sampling salty snacks and pouring
over food dictionaries. Shoot her your kitchen queries, share your opinions, or just come and say