RWJUH Introduces “Dining for All Seasons”

Revamped In-patient Room Service Dining Menu Eliminates Fried Foods, Focuses on Using More Fresh Ingredients

Monday, September 30, 2013

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – No more fried foods. Use more fresh ingredients. Offer in-demand foods considered “seasonal” year-round.
Those are the key goals that the Food & Nutrition Department at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) set out to accomplish following months of discussion about updating its in-patient menu in recognition of the hospital’s 10-year anniversary of Room Service Dining.
“With ‘Dining for All Seasons,’ we’re introducing new menu items and other changes which we feel will exceed patients’ expectations,” says Tony Almeida, director, Food & Nutrition Department at RWJUH. “I still remember how excited my team was in October 2003 to be the first 600-bed hospital in the Northeast to introduce Room Service Dining hospital-wide. Our priority then remains the same today - to increase patient satisfaction.”
“Dining for All Seasons” debuted this month. It features 20 percent more entrees and offers no fried foods, making RWJUH among few hospitals, regionally, to make that change.
“We are now fried food-free!” Jill Hanscom, MPA, RD, assistant director, Patient Service (Food & Nutrition) at RWJUH, declares proudly. “Our patients have been looking toward a healthier menu and our dietitians feel strongly that we can support our patients’ recovery better by offering healthier alternatives to traditional fried foods. For example, instead of French fries, patients can now order gourmet potato wedges, which taste just as good and are just as crispy but are baked in the oven to reduce the saturated fat.”
The fried food-free and more diversified menu offerings also give certain patient populations, such as cardiac patients, more options, Hanscom added.
Another big change? Meals will be made with more fresh ingredients. “We want to minimize the use of frozen products in meal preparation. So, for example, our hash browns, which were frozen and deep fried, will now consist of potatoes diced and cooked fresh daily,” Hanscom explains. “The goal, again, is to make our offerings healthier to support our patients.”
Also based on patient feedback, “Dining for All Seasons” incorporates the most requested food items year-round. “Comfort foods such as our home-style meatloaf or beef minestrone soup, which many consider to be season-specific, can be ordered for room service any time now,” she says.
To deliver these changes, training for the hospital’s kitchen staff has evolved, says RWJUH Executive Chef Tim Gee, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). He, RWJUH Sous Chef Nick Mercogliano, who also is a graduate of the CIA, and Hanscom worked together closely to develop the new menu.
“We have rolled out a new program, called ‘RWJ White Toque Culinarians,’ to help our employees elevate their cooking skills,” Gee says. “They’re focused on mastering the five cooking foundation techniques – sautéing, braising, grilling, pan searing and roasting – because once you master the basics, they can be applied to any recipe.”
Gee adds that about half of his cooks are trained and the remainder will complete training by the end of this year.
The patient menus also are redesigned and have a restaurant-like look and larger, more easily readable print. Numerous versions (including Spanish, Kosher, Children’s and Dysphagia) are now available to meet diverse population needs.

About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) is a 600-bed academic medical center and the principal hospital of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, NJ. Robert Wood Johnson is an innovative leader in advancing state-of-the-art care. RWJUH is the first hospital in the nation to implant the AbioCor self-contained artificial heart since the device received FDA approval in 2006. RWJUH is one of only three sites in the nation approved to offer this groundbreaking technology. Its Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation, cancer care, and women’s and children’s care including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital ( The hospital is also a Level 1 Trauma Center and serves as a national resource in its ground-breaking approaches to emergency preparedness. The hospital has earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is ranked among the top 50 hospitals in the nation for heart and heart surgery (No. 36), cancer (No. 40) respiratory disorders (No. 50), according to U.S.News & World Report’s 2009 ranking of “America’s Best Hospitals.” The American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer has rated RWJUH among the nation's best comprehensive cancer centers. The Leapfrog Group rated RWJUH as one of the 50 exceptional U.S. hospitals, as published in Consumers Digest magazine. Harvard University researchers, in a study commissioned by The Commonwealth Fund, identified RWJUH as one of the top 10 hospitals in the nation for clinical quality. RWJUH is also a recipient of the prestigious Magnet Award for Nursing Excellence for more than 10 consecutive years. Visit us online at

About UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. In cooperation with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the medical school’s principal affiliate, they comprise New Jersey’s premier academic medical center. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.

As one of the eight schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with 2,800 full-time and volunteer faculty, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 22 basic science and clinical departments, hosts centers and institutes including The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for more than 1,500 students on its campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway, and Camden, and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs.


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