This week honors Healthcare Foodservice Workers for their role in keeping patients and employees well-nourished.

During this special Healthcare Foodservice Workers Week, we recognize and honor the people behind the scenes at Lompoc Valley Medical Center who make trays magically appear throughout the day for our patients to consume nutritious meals, and those who prepare and serve the café meals eaten by many of our patrons. 

This week was deemed Healthcare Foodservice Workers Week by Congress in 1985, to recognize the role of foodservice staff in helping patients and healthcare employees stay well-nourished and healthy. The importance of excellent nutrition has been established and is well documented, but it is even more critical to individuals being treated in healthcare facilities, according to the Association for Healthcare Foodservice.

Many people do not understand all of the moving parts in the kitchen operation at LVMC. I was one of those myself until I became the Director of the Food and Nutrition Services Department last June.

Being a food service worker (FSW) means you have to staff multiple job positions and you have many responsibilities. The FSW Staff at LVMC are cross-trained for multiple roles, as are most food service workers in hospitals. They work as team to make sure everything is done in a timely manner, for the health and safety of our patients, visitors and staff.

The kitchen is one of the most highly regulated infection control areas within a hospital. Food handling, preparation and storage are the three main areas that must be continuously monitored to ensure foods remain at certain temperatures, that food is stored appropriately and food is prepared properly, among other elements.

Food preparation is a time sensitive operation – in restaurants and hospitals. For example, think about the process involved in making a simple hamburger meal -- defrosting the meat, washing the veggies, cutting up the veggies, cooking the patties and finally, the preparation of the plate. It is quite a process.

Our Foodservice Worker staff must prepare a variety of meals for our patients – including low-sodium, liquid diet, heart healthy and more. There’s even a special steak meal that new parents receive in celebration of the birth of their child – prepared by our staff.

And with the addition of a new Bariatric, or Weight Loss Surgery, service at LVMC, the Foodservice staff will soon be creating meals specifically for patients undergoing that surgery.

Patient meals aren’t the only duty for the staff. They must also prepare hundreds of Meals on Wheels plates every day of the week. The staff also prepares and serves the public meals at the Ocean’s Seven Café, open during the week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  

The FSW staff are some of the hardest working individuals I know and are an integral part of the healthcare team at LVMC. They each have their own unique set of skills in making the Food and Nutrition Service operation special. Without their hard work, skills and dedication, our patients would not have the proper nutrition to help them on the road to recovery. 

Happy Food Service Worker Week LVMC Dietary Staff! 

About the Author

Author: Lindsey Arevalos, MHA, MS, PRIME Project Coordinator

Lindsey Arevalos is Lompoc Valley Medical Center’s Director of Food and Nutrition Services and PRIME Project Coordinator, managing federal funding opportunities and coordinating multiple projects to improve the health care delivery system under the Affordable Care Act. She earned a bachelor of science degree in nutrition, with a minor in psychology, from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. She also holds a Master’s of Science in Agriculture with a specialization in food science and nutrition and a Master’s of Health Administration in Operations from Cal Poly.

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