National Healthcare Food Service Week is October 6-12, so it’s the perfect time to focus on the hardworking men and women who staff UAB Food and Nutrition Services.
Running two shifts per day that span from 4:30 am to 10 pm, this team of more than 280 people feeds 1,100-1,200 patients three meals per day, seven days a week, from its main kitchen in the West Pavilion and the kitchen in UAB Hospital-Highlands. It also manages the North Pavilion retail food court, and it provides food for the multiple physician lounges and dining rooms throughout the medical campus. Altogether, this comes to approximately 4.5 million meals annually for patients, faculty, staff, and guests.
Its busy catering service on average serves more than 60 groups per day at meetings and special events, offering everything from basic box lunches to multi-course fine dining. The culinary team feeds as many as 12,000 at both the outdoor employee picnic each spring and the holiday event in the West Pavilion atrium.
“Food and Nutrition Services is comprised of dedicated and passionate employees who serve up care, one meal at a time,” says Charlotte Beeker, director of Food, Nutrition, and Guest Services.
Many employees will remember the baked goods shop that was located near the entrance to the hospital cafeteria when it was still located in Jefferson Tower. Good news for those with a sweet tooth: Food and Nutrition Services is reopening the bakery soon in the North Pavilion. Gourmet Goodies, as it will be called, will offer a wide variety of sweets and baked goods, including cookies, parfaits, eclairs, tarts, filled croissants, custom birthday cakes, and much more.
How does UAB Food and Nutrition Services go above and beyond in feeding patients, visitors, and employees? Here are some comments from a few key staff members:
- Donnell Johnson, executive chef (9 years of service): “When a patient has been here a long time, we make a point to go and visit with them to find out some different things they want that aren’t normally on the menu.”
- Clinton Carr, dietetic technician (20+ years of service): “I work as a liaison between the kitchen and the patient. I find out the nutritional needs of the patients when they come into the hospital, assess their nutritional status, make sure they’re not malnourished, and if he or she is malnourished, order supplements. We look for any foods patients may be allergic to, find out their likes and dislikes, and we try to implement snacks into their diet.”
- Patrillo Taylor, pastry chef (4 years of service): “We are always working on quality and adding fun things that are comforting and familiar to our patients. Peach cobbler is our most popular dessert. When you’re not feeling well, you want dessert!”
- Cynthia Williams, food service worker (25 years of service): “I deliver food to patient rooms all across UAB Hospital, and I make sure it’s delivered within an hour or less. Patients love to converse with us, and they tell me it’s the best hospital food they’ve had.”