Visitors and staff in some Jefferson University Hospital buildings can now enjoy fresh salads with arugula, mushrooms, Israeli couscous, or smoked salmon, even at 3 am, when there’s nobody around to make them.
The salads, plus add-ons like organic chicken as well as desserts, are available through Jefferson’s new partnership with Simply Good Jars, a West Philadelphia company that sells ready-to-eat fresh meals and snacks in reusable jars. The meals are stored in “smart refrigerators” with sensors that detect what is purchased. Customers buy food by swiping a credit card, then return the jars.
The jars are available in four Jefferson locations — 925 Chestnut St., the Gibbon Building at 11th and Chestnut, the Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience at 900 Walnut St., and Jefferson Methodist Hospital at 2301 S. Broad St. — but administrators hope to add more in the future. It’s the first hospital partnership for Simply Good Jars, which also can be found in a growing number of local office buildings and food courts.
“In a hospital setting, when it’s late at night, you’re under stress, it’s nice to be able to go to a vending machine and have those choices," said Stephanie Conners, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Jefferson Health.
Increasingly, hospitals in the region and around the country are focusing on healthy food, and not just for patients. In 2014, the City of Philadelphia partnered with the American Heart Association and the regional food distributor Common Market to launch Philadelphia’s “Good Food, Healthy Hospitals” challenge, which called on hospitals to adopt standards in cafeteria meals, patient meals, catering, and vending machines.
The 18 hospitals that participated have since made changes like reducing access to soda (in the case of Penn Medicine, eliminating all sugared drinks from facilities), hosting farm stands, and launching community programs.