NYC Health + Hospitals Celebrates Serving 1.2 Million Plant-Based Meals

Gonzalo Duran
Published on March 18, 2024, 1:02 pm
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In March 2022, NYC Health + Hospitals launched its plant-based meals program, initiating a significant shift towards healthier dining options. Fast forward to March 14, 2024, the organization marked its two-year anniversary by inviting the media and key stakeholders to sample dishes from its diverse plant-based menu offerings.


The event focused on the health implications of embracing plant-based diets, highlighting the positive impact such dietary choices can have on individuals’ well-being. Every meal distributed by NYC Health + Hospitals is prepared at the Brooklyn Culinary Center, ensuring top-notch quality and freshness. With over 783,000 meals served in the 2023 calendar year alone, the program has been very successful. The dishes are constantly evolving through its Chef’s Recommendation testing program, with only those scoring 80% or above making it onto the menu.

Patients are even equipped with a booklet of plant-based recipes upon discharge, empowering them to continue their journey towards healthier eating habits.

Kate MacKenzie, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy, underscored the importance of serving nutritious and flavorful meals, particularly in healthcare settings where patients are on the path to recovery. She commended NYC Health + Hospitals for its innovative approach to crafting delicious and culturally relevant plant-forward dishes, which have garnered popularity among patients.

Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, credited Mayor Eric Adams for championing the program during his tenure as Brooklyn Borough President. Katz emphasized the numerous health benefits associated with plant-based diets and expressed satisfaction with the partnership with Sodexo. He highlighted how these meals contribute to patient satisfaction, improved health outcomes, and cost savings for the organization.

Philip DeMaiolo, Corporate Chef at NYC Health + Hospitals for Sodexo, passionately spoke about the transformative power of food in shaping lives. He delved into the creative process behind crafting indigenous dishes tailored to patients’ preferences, citing examples such as Sancocho and sofrito. DeMaiolo also emphasized the ease of preparing restaurant-style plant-based meals, which have been warmly embraced by patients. “We are not making hospital food; we are making healthcare cuisine.”

Amanda Feliciano and Genesis Sampayo, frontline staff serving meals at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and South Brooklyn Health, shared their firsthand experiences offering plant-based options to patients. Despite initial skepticism, patients quickly embraced these flavorful alternatives, expressing surprise at their taste and nutritional value.

Key Points Highlighted:

• Scientific research consistently demonstrates that plant-based eating patterns are associated with significantly lower risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers. They also offer benefits for weight management, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.

• The adoption of plant-based meals has resulted in a notable reduction in carbon emissions by 36% and a cost savings of 59 cents per meal.

• Patients consuming plant-based meals at NYC Health + Hospitals reported a satisfaction rate exceeding 90%.

• Non-plant-based options will remain available upon request and in accordance with patients’ prescribed diets, ensuring inclusivity and choice.

Gonzalo Duran
As a seasoned professional in both the military and civic realms, Gonzalo Duran brings a wealth of experience to his role as the Chief Executive Officer of Devil Dog USA Incorporated. A former United States Marine Sergeant, he not only leads a non-profit dedicated to supporting Veterans’ reintegration but also holds key positions in Bronx County’s political landscape, including Vice Chairman of the Bronx County Conservative Party and (C) District Leader for the 79th Assembly District. With over a decade as a CEO, Gonzalo is a multifaceted contributor to his community, excelling as an access producer, talk show host, columnist, chaplain, and advocate.