I thought it might be interesting to do a little ad-hoc comparison of hospital food.
You either love it, or you hate it.

What I am asking you to do is snap a picture of a typical tray of hospital food as it is served up to your patients.
Send it in to: ian@impactednurse.com and include the following.

  • You may or may not wish to identify which hospital is serving up this food.
  • Give it a subjective rating out of 5
    (5 being excellent, 0 being antiemetic-stat) for each of the following categories:
    Nutritional value.
    Aesthetic appeal.
  • You may also wish to make comment on how you feel about the overall standard of patient food in your hospital.

You can also do the same for food served to staff in the hospital cafeteria if you wish.
I will post any pictures and comments up on this page as they arrive.


To get things rolling Alexandra has sent in this pic of a typical hospital meal in Puerto Rico (no ratings were provided).

Well this all looks so yummy…..not.
It is always a little disturbing when there is not much difference between the colour of the food and that of the tray.
And as is often the case, the packaging is going to be very difficult opening for the aged or the incapacitated.

Cath, from my own hospital sent in this with the following comment:
“My friend posted this during her recent 10 day stay at TCH. She was surprised that it constituted a side salad. I suggested to her that it looked pretty good cause the cucumber wasn’t see through or frozen!!”

Geez some people are never satisfied! The tomato is red(ish), the carrot is orange, there is a bonus slice of cucumber and she got 25 times the recommended daily intake of lettuce. Seriously, you are going to have to pick that slab of carrot up and eat it ’cause you have not a hope of cutting it with the flimsy plastic cutlery provided :- Ian.

Served up at St George in Sydney. Pork Surprise, veggies, broth and fruit for dessert. Please note the special attention to detail that is the crockery and matching white cutlery in the pocket. Mmmm, makes me hungry just looking at it!

The whole aesthetics of food delivery in the public hospital system seems to be going into the kitchen bin here.
Eating out of flimsy disposable plastic bowls, eating your food with bendy plastic utensils and drinking out of thin plastic cups does nothing to lift the spirits of the sick.
And lets not even talk about the environmental impact of all this plastic ( it is biodegradable right?)- Ian.


From Paul we have the following offerings:
Meal One is Roast Chicken and Veg.  I have lifted the lid off and set it on the tray. This lunch time special is thus rated:
Nutritional value. 4-Balanced diet of meat fruit and veg, but I hope you like tea as there is no coffee.  I also hope you are not vegetarian/non-pork eating religion as the alternative are generally ham containing sandwiches.
Tastiness. 2-How can something look so good and yet have no taste,  oh yeah no pepper and no salt was used and salt is not available to patients (heart healthy huh).  Mashed potato has no milk/cream/butter added and mashed for a maximum of 2 sec before being scooped out (can you spot the lumps?)
Aesthetic appeal. 5 (on the hospital scale)- I do think this looks good.

Meal Two is BREAKFAST!!.  Cornflakes the meal of champions.
Nutritional value. 5- Nothing is so balanced as Cold toast, full cream milk, fruit, juice and once again TEA.
Tastiness. 4-  Nothing wrong with taste here, as long as you like cornflakes.
Aesthetic appeal. 4- (I cheated and rearranged) Can’t argue how this has been thrown together, just missing a flower and newspaper.

Side note- it is possible to get gluten free and soy milk, as long as you ask for it QUICKLY (before 0800).  Only one sachet of sugar, so i’ve seen a patient put the jam on the cornflakes and sugar in the tea (and yes they were diabetic).

5 Responses to “Hospital food: show and tell.”

  1. Our hospital food is bearable – we still have a cook on site as we are a rural hospital, and he does a mighty fine job with what he has available. It’s actually real food most of the time. We also use real crockery and cutlery, wow! I’ll try to scam a photo today.

  2. Several years ago my hospital started a new system. Patients could order from quite a varied menu within their individual diets. The food was very appetizing and they could order on their own schedule, except after 7:30 pm. Unfortunately a couple of months ago this all changed and they are only able to choose between 2 “chef’s picks” for each meal. I’m sure it saves a ton of money but the patients are now getting the same old traditional hospital food that everyone hates.

  3. I think the most unappetizing foods I have to serve are the pureed diets for patients who can’t chew solid foods and can’t swallow thin liquids, so everything is applesauce/pudding consistency. Yesterday, I fed a patient a pureed pile of yellow mush, which I was told was toast and eggs.
    Unfortunately, many of my elderly patients who are on pureed diets also have dementia. I remember vividly one resident at a previous nursing home I worked at who asked regularly for toast and water, neither of which I could give her. I could thicken the water to pudding consistency, and pour milk over the toast to make it soggy, and serve these to her, but she did not recognize these as toast and water, and did not understand that this was the best I could do.
    (I’m in Canada, and these are experiences from several places I’ve worked at here.)

  4. Not a nurse…I wish! Someday maybe. But I HAVE been a patient in OB 3 very happy times. My time with my middle daughter, I was at Christiana Hospital in Newark, DE. They had a spring mix salad with feta cheese, pecans, and dried cranberries with a raspberry vinaigrette that was honestly one of the best things i have ever tasted. I requested it for all 3 days I was there, lunch and dinner. I think I even convinced a nurse to get a leftover one for me in the middle of the night! Every once in a while, you get something yummy!

  5. I don’t have a photo, but I was once served a meal whilst a patient that looked like pedigree dog food on rice… no eating was done that night!

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