After a few minutes of listening to Food Services Director Anthony Scarpino talk about the plans for his department, you start to wonder whether he's sampled a little too much of the coffee he serves in the Cafe at Children's.
He rattles off plans and ideas in such rapid succession that a writer can get a hand cramp just trying to keep up. And the ideas aren't just pie-in-the-Food-Services-sky. Some of them have already been put in place, and others are either being worked on or are very much on the team's "to do" list.
"Almost everyone at Children's—employees, patients, families, visitors—has contact with someone in Food Services at some point," says Scarpino. "So we want them to have a good experience, be able to choose from a large selection of food and feel like we made their day a little easier."
They've already made it easier for employees to get food in the cafe and order it for hospital events. In January, Food Services rolled out a declining balance program that lets employees put money in an account accessed using their IDs—no cash or credit cards needed. Cafe Manager Jenna Davis, ISD and the Finance and Human Resources Departments are now developing a payroll deduction system so the money employees spend in the cafe can come right out of their paychecks.
"Children's employees have more important things to worry about than whether they have enough cash to eat dinner," says Davis.
They also have another option for people when planning meetings that include a meal—the Catering Service. Already providing meals for events throughout the hospital's main campus, it recently expanded to include the offices at 1 and 21 Autumn Street and 1295 Boylston Street. There's also an enhanced menu of items that can be ordered online. To check out the new items (including new plated dinners like Pan Seared Duck Breast and Beef Tenderloin Roulade), visit the Catering link on the Cafe at Children's Web site at http://i-cuisines.com/sodexhocafe/CHB/chb.asp.
The next step for Scarpino and his team of 80 is to make it easier to get healthier food. They switched to trans fat-free frying oil last year, and since March is National Nutrition Month, Food Services is teaming up with the hospital's Clinical Nutrition Service to focus on three areas: calcium and bone health; healthy snacks and whole grains; and good fats vs. bad fats.
As part of the program, the cafe will begin offering a free 8-ounce unflavored milk to any child under age 12. "Soft drinks are so convenient and affordable it's no wonder children are drinking as much of them as they are," says Scarpino. "Have you ever seen a vending machine that sells milk? We're trying to make it more accessible and affordable so kids have another, healthier option."
Other permanent healthy-eating options kicking off in March include adding whole grain breads, cereals and pastas; offering healthy side items like cut vegetables and fruit as an alternative to fried items; and adding certified organic items to the menu.
"With input from throughout the hospital," says Scarpino, "our team is working hard to be a major part of the world-class care provided at Children's."
For information on Food Services' gift bag program, visit