New food choices are coming to our hospital cafeterias

They’re not only fresh and seasonal but locally sourced and sustainable

A plant forward menu
Juicy watermelon, sweet strawberries, and crisp green beans: It’s summertime in Minnesota and local, seasonal food is abundant from farmers markets to restaurants. Those dining at our hospital cafeterias will soon have more access to these types of high-quality foods, too.

Our Nutrition Services team takes a mindful approach to the food we serve, focusing on made-from-scratch items with lower sodium and sugar, whole grains, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Now, we’re making an even greater transformation to our cafeterias.

What’s happening?


“We are introducing a different style of eating,” says Sandy Laffan, System Director of Support Services. “You will begin to see new choices that feature fresh, nutrient-rich, and seasonal foods that are locally sourced and sustainably produced. Other changes like digital menu boards, educational information, and ways to connect technology to nutritional information are coming, too.”

Employees, patients and visitors can expect to see the food choices they love, plus a variety of new selections at an affordable price. Watch for nutritious offerings like a wrap and salad station with regional and international flavors, a salad bar with hearty and ancient grains, and a build-your-own bowl or burrito.

People will have the opportunity to sample some of the new menu items and provide comments. Options will change based on feedback.

The transition began this month at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, and St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul.

St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, and Woodwinds Health Campus in Woodbury will see changes at the end of September.

Why the new offerings?


Organizations such as Health Care Without Harm and Healthier Hospitals have been catalysts in the health industry, providing benchmarks and resources to help with food transformations. 

“Building on their recommended guidelines, we developed a food philosophy and are establishing our health system as a leader in this effort,” says Paul Onufer, Vice President and Executive of System Operations.

That food philosophy embraces the idea that food is medicine, food is health, and food is community.

“This transformation is aligned with our leadership as an anchor institution, rooted in and committed to our communities,” says John Swanholm, Vice President of Community Advancement and President of Fairview Foundation. “Our goal in this initiative is to make an impact on the health and wellbeing of our patients, employees, and communities through food.”

What’s next?


Nutrition Services is looking at ways to reduce food waste and make changes to our vending machines and retail spaces.


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