How supermarkets can serve hospital patients

April 19, 2012

A group wants to force fast food franchises out of hospitals. How can supermarkets save the day?

Recently, a consumer advocacy group has been campaigning to remove McDonald’s franchises from Hospital grounds on the basis that the restaurant makes food that is harmful and should not exist in a place where health is already a concern. Fair point, but we wonder if attempts to force removal of food franchises from hospitals is really making a difference in efforts to encourage healthy eating choices. After all, does it really matter if the McDonald’s is on the hospital grounds or just a few minutes down the street? It’s a personal choice to eat there, and if someone really wants it, they’ll find it.

The Lempert Report is certainly not advocating fast food diets, particularly for patients in hospitals, but what we are advocating is targeting the heart of the matter.

It’s common opinion that most hospital meals leave little to be desired. (Although there is a growing movement for hospitals to improve their food offerings!) In addition, if you’ve ever been hospitalized or had a child hospitalized, you probably know that a lot of hospitals only provide meals for the patient and/or one family member. In other words, mom is fed, but dad is on his own! In this case, patients and family members who want to stay close to their loved ones, may find themselves with few options, so they end up eating at whatever is offered on the hospital grounds.

Here’s how supermarkets can save the day!

If your store is located within a reasonable proximity to a hospital, you have an opportunity to help out. Offer meal bundles for patients and families that can either be easily picked up or delivered to the hospital. For patients, hospitals usually provide a menu each day and allow patients to choose meals and submit, so they don’t have to think about it but once. Supermarkets could offer the same service, except your offerings are going to be much more appealing!

And supermarkets can make it easy for patients, but offering online ordering with full menus. Create a specific ordering page for hospital patients, so all they have to do is input the name of the hospital, their room number and name.

And if you’d like to go a step further, add a Get Well Soon card, flower or balloon for the first meal ordered.

Giving consumers positive options may have more of an impact in improving diets, rather than efforts to take negative things away. And as a supermarket, you will impress your customers by letting them know you care!