Despite hospitals' unfortunate — though not always undeserved — reputation for serving up unappetizing and sometimes unidentifiable meals, most have been diligently trying to upgrade their food service for decades.
Today, many allow patients to choose dishes off restaurant-style menus that include a variety of cuisine. The food looks good, tastes good and is more nutritious. There is a wider selection of fruits and vegetables from which to choose, and fewer high-sodium, high-sugar and high-fat items. Increasingly, hospital kitchens are cooking meats from livestock that have never been shot up with antibiotics.
Food suppliers have been trying to appeal to hospital meal planners for a long time, too, as these advertisements from the July 1951 issue of Hospitals magazine attest. In "Around the Wards with Kellogg's," the cereal maker touted its individual packages as convenient for both patients and staff. According to its ad, meal planning was easier for dietitians, thanks to a "big assortment of flakes, shredded and popped cereal." Nurses found the containers with "perforated doors" that allowed patients to eat right out of the box "a cinch to serve!" And patients thought the cereal was simply "De-licious!"
The National Turkey Foundation proclaimed that "Turkey's in the Hospital" with an ad crowing that, portionwise, "it is the most economical to serve," that it's "popular with patients every day of the year" and that it can be cooked just like other meats but, prepared ahead of time and reheated "with virtually no loss."