UCLA Health System’s Patti Oliver Discusses Wellness and Sustainable Practices

As the director of nutrition at UCLA Health System in Los Angeles, Patti Oliver, MS, RDN, MBA, oversees a $26 million budget. Annual sales volume totals $12 million. Her department serves 9,000 meals a day via patient dining, 3 retail outlets and an upscale catering department. The staff includes 300 full-time equivalents.

PMO1-copyPatti Oliver
Director of Nutrition
UCLA Health System
Los Angeles www.uclahealth.org
A 2017 International Foodservice Manufacturers Association Silver Plate Award winner, Oliver is also a past president and Lifetime Achievement Award winner of the Association for Healthcare Foodservice. Her foodservice career spans 38 years, 18 of those at UCLA Health System.

Here, Oliver discusses how UCLA brings its wellness and sustainability practices to a continuously higher level.

FE&S: How do you address challenges to wellness and sustainability?

PO: Add to that the challenge of increasing wellness and sustainable food practices in an increasingly uncertain healthcare environment. We want to continue to be a leader in sustainability and have been fortunate to have the support of hospital administration. There is a cost associated with that initiative, and the cost isn't easily passed to our customers.

We partner with organizations such as Healthcare Without Harm to leverage our purchasing power as a group to get better pricing on sustainable food products.

The hospital has a wellness program called UCLA Wellness Initiative. We coordinate with that initiative. We started out with our Green Apple labeling program to encourage patients, faculty and staff to make healthy food selections. The green apple signifies items lower in calories, fat and sodium. We also decreased the price of our salad bar by $2 a pound to encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables, and eliminated fried food items. We also offer healthy items in vending machines.

FE&S: How do wellness and sustainability translate to customers?

PO: Now we have Meatless Mondays, and 65 percent of our produce is locally grown and/or organic. We are working to develop more plant-based menus. We inform our patients and guests with a map showing where the produce comes from. Eighty percent of the beef and poultry we purchase is raised without antibiotics, and both of our hospital cafeterias are green business certified by the County of Los Angeles and the City of Santa Monica.

We have a robust waste management program, including dividing all of our pre-consumer and post-consumer waste into compost, recycle and landfill bins. Ninety percent of our serviceware is biodegradable.

FE&S: What are some highlights from your operations redesign?

PO: We have two fairly new hospitals and kitchens with Starbucks kiosks at both and several commercially branded concepts, including Subway, El Pollo Loco, and local pizza and sushi restaurants. We also have a very upscale catering department. Patient meals comprise 30 percent of the total meals service, and retail and catering services comprise the remaining 70 percent.

FE&S: What foodservice equipment interests you and why?

PO: We have an amazing new combi oven that works with many great programming features in steam mode, combination mode, convection mode and retherm mode. We are also installing an additional blast chiller to handle our increased volume of soup and sauce production, and also because of the scrutiny regulatory agencies are putting on cooling processes.

 

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