Hospitals in New York City, as well as hospitals in other major markets, are dealing with an increased demand for kosher food by patients, their families, visitors and staff. Hospital officials say that they have noticed an increase in the demand for kosher food, mostly for religious reasons.
At the Maimonides Medical Centerin the heart of Boro Park in Brooklyn, the entire kitchen is completely glatt kosher, producing approximately 3,500 kosher meals a day. It is the only hospital in the region that serves kosher exclusively in all its facilities, including its cafeterias and even at staff meetings.
Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Medical Centerhas a small in-house kitchen, certified by the Orthodox Union, with both a dairy and meat chef. It provides kosher food to about 100 of the medical center’s 900 patients. The kosher kitchen produces another 150 meals available for purchase in the cafeteria each day, and supplements catering at hospital events for kosher attendees.
Most other hospitals deal with lower volumes of kosher consumers, visitors and staff via their food services departments. They typically order kosher meals from local caterers and vendors. Lenox Hill Hospitaland New York University Medical Center, for example, both in Manhattan, serve an average of 15 kosher patients a day in this way. Long Island Jewish Medical Centerprovides almost 100 kosher meals a day. Meals are typically frozen then heated before being served to patients, and supplies of kosher bread and dairy products are delivered fresh.
One hospital nutritionist described how an increasing number of the standard packaged foods, such as cookies and juices, are becoming kosher certified and can be added to the kosher meals. Kosher food is also available for hospital personnel and visitors in the cafeterias. Usually the options are the same meals received by the patients, with an assortment of sandwiches and salads. All incoming food is sealed and supervised by the hospitals’ chaplain rabbi.