A Plant-Powered Menu Launches at Emory University Hospital

Date: Jan 12, 2024

Plant-Powered Menu

In January 2024 the Food & Nutrition team at Emory University Hospital is putting a spotlight on healthful plant-based meals and launching a pilot at Asbury Café (located on the ground floor of the main hospital beside the G and H elevators). They’re calling it the “Plant-Powered Menu”. The rotating options will include:

Emory University Hospital’s Assistant Director of Culinary Services Mike Bacha and Executive Chef Brad Mess have been refining recipes based on hospital “classics” while also being inspired by recent trends and local partners.

“I am truly excited to have the ability to introduce people to more plant-based options in our cafes,” Bacha says. “It should also be a lot of fun for our culinary team to explore new dishes!”

Building On Past Success

While reflecting on the success of the Plant-Based Harvest Feasta Thanksgiving themed event from recent yearsand cooking demos her team hosts, Kip Hardy, RDN, project manager for the Food and Nutrition team, shares “It feels good to build on the previous work by putting an emphasis on unique varieties of vegetables, beans, and grains”.

Hardy and Bacha also helped coordinate the Forward Food Symposium at Emory in 2019, bringing together academic and health care partners from all over the Southeast for a day of education and training focused on expanding plant-forward menu offerings. 

The primary motivation for focusing on minimally processed plant-based foods is health. “Plant-based diets are known to promote health and healing,” says Jennifer K. Gustafson, MD, assistant professor of general gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine. “With these new options, Emory hospitals are showcasing that ‘food as medicine’ can also be delicious!” 

The founder of Emory Healthy Kitchen Collaborative, Sharon H. Bergquist, MD, an internal medicine physician at Emory Healthcare, agrees.

In addition to evidence-based benefits of plant-forward nutrition, the pilot is also motivated by employee feedback.

“Offering vegetarian and vegan options in our hospital responds to a real need voiced by people in our division,” shares Anna Von, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. She further expands on the inclusivity factor: “Not only does this initiative increase healthy options for all of us, it also helps to include everyone in our community!”

Menu Pilot

The plant-powered menu pilot will run January 22 through February 16, 2024, after which the team will take time to reflect on customer feedback and the overall success of the pilot with hopes of continuing it, scaling it to other locations and maybe even expanding it to patient menus.

“Healthier eating sounds challenging to some of us that are not as familiar with unique ingredients,” admits Catherine Maloney, FACHE, chief operating officer at Emory University Hospital. “Emory Healthcare’s efforts to expose our staff, patients and visitors to plant-based food items are critical for helping break down barriers to ‘How do I start?’  I greatly appreciate the initiative to change my perceptions of trying new and different food that can enhance my own personal health.”

Learn More and Partake

Come try the food for yourself! Asbury Café is located at 1364 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, on the ground floor of the main hospital (beside the G and H elevators) and will be serving these menu options at lunch (11:00 am – 2:30 pm) and dinner (4:00 pm – 8:00 pm) Monday through Friday. Learn more about the menu and recipes and read up on the benefits of plant-based nutrition. We invite feedback from those who try the featured plant-based menu options for a chance to win weekly prizes during the time of the pilot.

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