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Alice Peck Day’s Commitment To Local Nutrition

Nov 28, 2023 03:24PM ● By Tracey Hull, MS, RD
It’s generally well understood that good nutrition improves your mood, overall health, and longevity, but what about in the hospital? The answer is a resounding yes! Quality nutrition in the hospital can help you heal faster and reduce the rate of complications, infections, and even death. Eating well in the hospital improves surgical wound healing, preserves muscle mass and strength, and speeds recovery, which means a shorter hospital stay and a lower rate of readmissions. This all equates to cost savings for the patient, the hospital, and ultimately the community.

It is no surprise that Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital takes its nutrition program very seriously. Their approach is not just centered around quality food ingredients but also locally sourced foods, giving back to the community, and reducing waste. They also provide proof that nutritious food can taste great. 

“APD has always been known for good food,” says Director of Nutrition and Environmental Services Shawn Richardson, “but our main goal is to help our patients get better while also teaching them that healthy food doesn’t have to taste like rabbit food and cardboard.”

Central to APD’s culinary philosophy is the Mediterranean diet, a change made about five years ago when Shawn joined the team as Director of Nutrition and Environmental Services. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole grains, a variety of antioxidant-packed vegetables, whole fruits, quality proteins like fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy fats including olive oil. It also steers away from foods high in saturated fats, fried foods, and highly processed foods that can increase inflammation and worsen disease. This way of eating is known to improve cognitive health, support heart function and blood flow, and taste delicious. 

“This is one of the healthiest ways of eating for most people that is sustainable, meaning people feel they can eat this way for a long time without feeling restricted,” says Tracey Hull, a registered dietitian at APD. 

With this in mind, APD is conscious of where they get their food and make their meals from scratch, which are low in sodium but big on taste.

They purchase a large portion of their food through Upper Valley Produce, sourcing products from over 70 local locations across Vermont and New Hampshire. Their bakery items including cookies, muffins, banana bread, and granola are hand-crafted with ingredients from King Arthur Baking Company. Four times a year, they purchase an entire grass-fed cow from Laroque Farm in Randolph, Vermont, which is naturally lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3s. They even use the leftover bones to create rich and nutritious bone broth containing 8 to 12 grams of protein per serving. 

“We try to add protein to most of our foods for healing,” says Cyndy Welker, a registered dietitian at APD. “The bone broth gives a good source of protein when patients are on a clear liquid diet or don’t feel well.”

Of course, with food production comes waste, and hospitals are no exception. The nutrition department at APD focuses on minimizing waste as much as possible, ultimately reducing what ends up in our landfills in Lebanon. They donate extra food to the Senior Citizen Meals on Wheels to be used in their community dinners. Other items are donated to LISTEN and local churches. They utilize reusable or compostable containers for staff meals and provide room service–style meals to their patients, only providing what is ordered at the time it is requested rather than at standardized mealtimes.

“Ultimately, nutritious food can and should taste good,” says Shawn. “Getting it as local as possible helps to strengthen our community. It’s always healthier, decreases our footprint, and ultimately helps our patients get better faster.” 

APD continues to redefine the landscape of health care and nutrition in our community, one meal at a time.


Tracey Hull, MS, RD

Registered Dietitian

[email protected]

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