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Updated 12:30 PM February 14, 2007
 

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  Michigan Healthy Community
Hospital to provide new options in healthy eating

Based on results of a recent employee survey, the U-M Health System (UMHS) has chosen a new vendor to provide quick, casual dining options within University Hospital.

The 10-year contract with Wendy's Restaurant, a franchise of Stanton and Associates, Inc., will expire Feb. 28, at which time renovations will begin to accommodate the planned installation of two new restaurants—Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Fresh and Healthy Café—adjacent to the hospital cafeteria.

"While we've enjoyed extraordinary service from Wendy's during the past 10 years, there has been an interest in a change of vendors and more variety," says Tom Peterson, associate director of Operations and Support Services for the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers. "We see this change as an opportunity to more directly promote healthy food choices throughout the health system."

Einstein Bros. Bagels and Fresh and Healthy Café are scheduled to open in the spring. During construction, the hospital cafeteria will offer expanded evening and weekend services to accommodate late-night visitors and third-shift employees.

Benefits of the new restaurants include 24 hours per day, seven days per week food service for visitors and staff; menus on which at least half of the items will be MFit Healthy Dining Program-approved; and a Web food kiosk self-serve ordering system that allows patrons to place orders using a touch screen and schedule a pick up time in advance.

The survey, which included responses from nearly 3,000 employees, compared respondents' preferences for location of currently offered food services (the hospital cafeteria, Wendy's, kiosks or snack carts and Nick's Café at the North Ingalls Building), type of food offered, cost, and ideas for new vendors within the Wendy's location.

Seventy-eight percent said that the availability of healthy eating options affected their decision about where to purchase meals during work.

While respondents showed a preference for the hospital cafeteria for its healthy eating choices and variety, respondents also showed a preference for Wendy's because of the convenience of its hours, speed of service and value.

"Wendy's participated in the Healthy Dining Program by working with MFit to label healthy food options on their menu, but it became clear that we should select a food service vendor that meets our needs as an institution to provide healthier eating options, while combining the best of what both services have to offer," says Craig Luck, contract administrator for Hospital Operations.

The new contract for managing the restaurants was awarded to ARAMARK, which currently operates the hospital cafeteria, Nick's Café and several coffee kiosks across the medical campus. With franchise rights to operate Einstein Bros. Bagels, ARAMARK will be able to provide streamlined services and comparable prices, Luck says.

Continuing efforts to increase healthier dining options within the medical center, at least half of all cold-food, snack and beverage vending machine items are MFit-approved.

When the new Cardiovascular Center clinical building opens in June, its Atrium Healthy Heart Café will feature a menu developed by a committee that includes Florine Mark, founder of Weight Watchers and a member of the CVC National Advisory Board, and members of the MFit Health Promotion Division. Ninety-percent of items on its menu will adhere to stricter nutritional guidelines than those in the MFit Healthy Dining Program.

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