Author Archives: Emily Stone

Registered Dietitians Transform the Food Culture in Western Mass

Inspired by Food Day, Baystate Medical Center in Springfield is working to change its food culture. The movement is organized by twelve members of Baystate’s nutrition staff, who created a mission statement: to demonstrate Baystate Health’s commitment to sourcing and promoting healthy, local, and sustainable food for patients, employees and the community.

Food day planning committee at Baystate

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and Dietetic Technicians, Registered on the Food Day planning committee at Baystate

Two registered dietitians, Jeff Sautter and Paula Serafino-Cross, are leading the Food Day initiatives at Baystate. As clinicians in the hospital, a 650-bed facility, they see the effects of poor nutrition every day. Paula recently lamented about the intravenous nutrition she was planning for a patient who was unable to keep food down, yet needed to regain strength for surgery. “Where is the prevention? Why did he come in at 440 pounds? If our food system were different, people would not find themselves in this situation.”

For Paula, Food Day is an opportunity to utilize her food and nutrition expertise for her true passion: helping people in the local community eat good quality, healthy food. She and her team have been working with the kitchen staff to develop recipes that use local produce available in the fall. They plan to feature the recipes and promote local farms in the cafeteria every Thursday in October.

Beyond October, they are looking to make a more lasting impact through consumer education and sustained change within their organization. On the days when the recipes are served, copies of the recipes, as well as information on farmers markets and local foods, will be available for café patrons. The recipes that have been developed are simple so it will be easier for people to incorporate local foods into their daily lives. Paula hopes that local foods will continue to be promoted on the menu at least once a month and that the percentage of foods purchased locally on an ongoing basis will increase. She would also like to see the movement spread to other sites in the Baystate Health system, which employs 10,000 people across four sites in western Massachusetts.

October 24 is still many weeks away, but at Baystate Health, Food Day is already having an important impact. The platform of Food Day has brought together people from diverse areas of this workplace, and people are excited about what is happening.

Want to learn more about what dietitians can do for your community? The Massachusetts Dietetic Association (MDA) is an organization of over 2,000 nutrition professionals with a vision of optimizing the health of Massachusetts residents through food and nutrition. MDA dietitians are in leadership roles in many venues where sustainable food is encouraged, such as hospitals, health centers, schools, universities, corporate communications, academia, food service, and community work. See www.eatrightma.org for more information.

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