my latest adventure: local food at riverbend hospital

The weekend in San Francisco was going to be a deserved, long-awaited break and time to reflect and plan out the summer and fall. I had a few fun food goodies to finish, like my over-researched soup dumpling article and a series of posts on my recent experiences cooking Sichuan food. I was going to stay in a posh hotel just blocks away from the SF Pride parade, so I could watch a little bit and then wander off for eats at the Ferry Building.

Instead, I got hit by a car leaving the airport terminal.  The weekend was spent in bed at an airport hotel because I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t concentrate on much because of the pain pills, not to mention all the arrangements that needed to be made for immediate surgery upon my return home.

And so you get a post on food at River Bend Hospital food, instead.

The good news is that our new, state-of-the-art hospital didn’t choose to go the way of many institutional facilities.  I often have a chance to chat with nutritionists at food conferences, and I’ve heard some horror stories about places that contract out ALL their food to frozen packaged food manufacturers so they don’t need to bother with operational kitchen facilities.

Instead of that, we have this:

Which is not horrible, given all the possible horrors, but could be improved. Overall, the food was tremendously salty and nearly everything was sweet.  I thought I had a pretty good sense of how sweet the American diet was, but the problem is astounding.  Even at a hospital, even after repeatedly and bluntly and slowly saying I DON’T LIKE SWEET THINGS and asking if each and every item was sweet when ordering, I was still offered muffins, pastries, pudding, fruit bowls, soda, juice, etc., AND mistakenly served french toast, sugary fruit yogurt, and juice.  You’ll notice even the turkey dinner has cranberry sauce.  I stayed for one night.  I would have been diabetic if I had stayed the week, no?

The only local food on the menu seemed to be Nancy’s plain yogurt, served in a bowl covered with Saran Wrap.  Even that has a sweetener in it!

I think we can do better than these small gestures for offerings.

There is some good news: the local chain Café Yumm has a presence at the hospital if you’re planning to visit and that type of food appeals.  I also managed to score a simple pasta salad from Cornucopia and a plain Greek yogurt at one of the kiosks.

But I sure am glad to be home.  I had a knee operation and it looks like I’ll be laid up and then in rehab for most of the summer.  Stay tuned for what are sure to be some odd times.  Never a dull moment here at Culinaria Eugenius!

7 thoughts on “my latest adventure: local food at riverbend hospital

  1. Isabel Owen 30 June 2012 / 7:15 pm

    What a bummer! Rest up, eat up and feel better fast.

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  2. Ted Szi 1 July 2012 / 7:20 am

    Sorry to hear about your accident, and that you missed your vacation. I really hope you recover quickly.

    Food always seems worse at the hospital, but I do believe that River Bend tries very hard to use local foods. In addition to using Nancy’s Yogurt, the bagels are baked daily at The Daily Bagel in Eugene.

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  3. Amy V. 1 July 2012 / 2:08 pm

    Oh no! Get well soon, Eugenia! I would have delivered something, anything to my favorite local blogger!

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  4. Eugenia 2 July 2012 / 3:12 pm

    Thanks, all, for your well wishes. @Ted Szi, I’d love to see some documentation about their specific use of local foods — either in the hospital or outside of it. What I saw was a dreadful — and dreadfully unhealthy — meal menu for patients with industrial food.

    The bagels and Nancy’s yogurt bowl were snacks that one can order by dialing FOOD on one’s hospital bed phone. There is no menu for the snacks provided in the room. The standard procedure seems to be that the patient tell the FOOD service what he or she wants, kind of like a fishing expedition. Needless to say, I didn’t think they’d have anything I really wanted, but I was trying not to be obnoxious with the guessing game.

    If those bagels are baked locally, the company should be changed, as they are making clones of frozen, tiny, pre-cut, sweet, low-quality supermarket bagels. Not even sure how they do this, honestly, but they are disgusting. As for Nancy’s plain yogurt, I had to fish for it, as they *really* wanted to give me (and did!) artificial fruit crap. If someone from Riverbend dining services is reading this, or if you could tell your contacts there if you have them, Ted, I’d appreciate it.

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  5. Eugenia 2 July 2012 / 3:16 pm

    Oh, and I should add a correction — Nancy’s plain yogurt does not have added sweetener. It’s just a very sweet plain yogurt. I’m used to eating plain Greek yogurt that’s much less sweet and has a higher protein count. They do offer a Greek yogurt at at least one of the kiosks at Riverbend — I had some prior to my anesthesiology pre-op appointment.

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  6. Ceri 2 July 2012 / 8:28 pm

    Sorry to hear that you were injured. Hope you make a speedy recovery.

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  7. Jessica 18 August 2012 / 12:16 pm

    The Food in the Kitchen cafeteria area for staff and visitors is excellent, especially the Pasta Station! VERY YUMMY! Not sure about the patient foods.

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