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Birmingham VA unveils exciting culinary transformations

At Birmingham VA, Veterans are at the heart of everything we do. And in Nutrition and Food Service, customer service is not just a culinary ingredient: It’s the secret sauce.

Studies show that good food is the foundation of health, and this approach doesn’t just cut medical costs, it improves and saves lives. In September 2022, the White House held a conference on hunger, nutrition and health. Since then, “food as medicine” has been listed on the menu for Veteran care across the country.

Birmingham VA is eager to be a part of this exciting movement, which is why we’re announcing some mouth-watering changes—to include a wider variety of fresh ingredients and scratch menu options with increased food choices.

A feast of choice and freshness

More variety: The new menu will offer a wider selection of delicious options daily, giving Veterans greater control over their dining experience. Among these are Caesar salad with chicken, cottage cheese and fruit plates, and fresh seasonal fruits.

Star meals: Each day will feature a special “Star Menu,” showcasing a signature dish like a comforting roast turkey dinner or a savory beef sirloin. Veterans can choose any or all these star items or mix and match with their favorites.

Scratch-made goodness: Say goodbye to reheated frozen dinners. Under the leadership of Megan Mihaly, chief at Nutrition and Food Service, along with Jennifer Maranowicz and Dana Drake, Birmingham VA is moving toward fresh, scratch-made recipes.

Cook-serve, not Cook-chill: Birmingham VA is transforming the old cook-chill system, where food was prepared, frozen and reheated. Instead, with the new cook-serve system, talented chefs will cook hot, fresh meals right before service, ensuring quality and flavor in every bite.

More choice for Veterans: Staff will take meal orders one day in advance with set delivery times on each ward so Veterans know when their meal will arrive.

To ensure a seamless transition, the service is refining workflows, establishing set delivery times, and creating recipes. “We even have new plates that will be placed on skid-resistant trays to avoid slipping,” said Mihaly.

Motivated by a passion to help others eat in a healthier way that followed the death of her grandmother from diabetes, Mihaly approaches food as part of the healing process. That approach is felt by the Veterans. Watch the team in action.  

A taste of transformation

Birmingham VA’s transformation will be a shining example of how health care is evolving to put patient well-being and satisfaction at the forefront. It’s about treating the whole person, and that includes nourishing their body and soul with delicious, healthy food and exceptional service.

Being in the hospital can be an unsettling experience for Veterans, caretakers and their loved ones. The Birmingham team will bring not just a hot meal but warmth to the stay and serve Veterans a dining experience with the comforts of home. Food is healing.

“That’s our passion and what we do,” Mihaly said. “It’s one of the many reasons Veterans choose Birmingham VA for their care.”

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