MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Starting Monday, Fairview Hospitals across Minnesota rolled out a new food menu for patients and guests. They’re doing it because the hospital is teaming up with the Partnership for a Healthier America.

So what do the changes mean for your diet? WCCO This Morning Reporter Ali Lucia stopped by Fairview Southdale in Edina to find out.

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The changes are part of a national Hospital Healthier Food Initiative and the new menu changes officially started the first Monday of November.

Healthy eating at a hospital should be common practice, right? New in November, “well-balanced meals” at Fairview Hospitals will be getting a makeover.

“Everything is freshly cooked to order, everything is a batch. Nothing is cooked to bulk, everything is cooked to order for you,” said Fairview Southdale Executive Chef Mark Minogue.

The hospital is getting rid of caloric drinks and replacing the menu with more water. In order to meet the Hospital Healthier Food Initiative standards every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner have to be less than 700 calories.

“This is one of our full plate meals it’s only 437 calories, under the 700 calories easily,” said Minogue while speaking about a nicely prepared trout and rice lunch meal.

Menu items like chicken tenders and other fried foods are being discarded because the deep fryer is no longer an option for cooking in the cafeteria.

“It’s a great thing the deep fryers are going away,” said Fairview Southdale Dietician Janelle Melgeorge Anderson. She said Fairview Health Services was purchasing 5,400 gallons of fryer oil a year.

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“Sometimes patients can be confused. This will really be a better fit,” said Melgeorge Anderson when speaking about eliminating the fried food choices.

Other rural hospitals across the state have committed to making healthier menus. But Fairview is the first Minnesota health system to participate in the Hospital Healthier Food Initiative.

“What I am really curious to see if some of our employees, who were choosing fried foods more often, did they lose weight in this?,” said Melgeorge Anderson. She said healthy change will lead to more healthy habits across the board.

You may be asking why a deep fryer in a hospital to begin with?

“I think the hospital wasn’t just trying to cater toward patients, but the people who were visiting or even employees,: Melgeorge Anderson said. “The goal was to keep people on campus for their meals.”

The deep fryer may be gone, but the healthy eating is in high gear.

The list below shows the major criteria Fairview Health System must meet for the Hospital Healthier Food Initiative. All Farview hospitals are included in the initiative.

Beverage Commitments

  • Increasing the percentage of “better-for-you” beverages to 80 percent of overall Fairview beverage purchases (examples include water, milk, non-caloric beverages) for sale in the cafeterias
  • Making tap water or access to water stations available wherever possible
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Food Commitments

  • Providing calorie counts for all food and beverages in our hospital cafeterias
  • Creating “wellness meals” for our hospital cafeterias and patient menus that meet defined nutritional profiles and pricing those meals equal to or less than the cost of other meal options
  • Removing all deep-fat fryers and deep-fried products from our cafeterias and patient menus
  • Displaying only healthier food and beverage options in marketing materials and pictorials in our hospital cafeterias (e.g., point-of-purchase posters) and menus
  • Meeting defined nutritional standards for 60 percent of entrees and side dishes served in our hospital cafeterias
  • Increasing fruits and vegetables to 10 percent of Fairview’s total cafeteria food spending