A series highlighting food news and its impact on our food economy, by Logan Yonavjak
Is Most Office Food Just Standard Fast Food?
According to an article in Next Food Economy, most of the food Americans consume at work is of “supremely low quality,” no better than standard fast food. Considering 30% of Americans have access to a work cafeteria, and 50% tend to eat lunch based on what they can assemble in a vending machine, this isn’t good news.
This information comes from a new study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Using data from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey of 5,222 working adults who logged all the food they ate during a seven-day period, the survey found that nearly 25% of respondents ate food that was either given for free (as a perk or at parties) or purchased through a corporate snack bar or cafe at least once, and many on multiple occasions, during the period.
The researchers found that the food was usually “high in empty calories, sodium, and refined grains, and low in whole grains and fruit.”
How does this compare to a Wendy’s menu?
According to the Healthy Eating Index, a metric created by USDA to measure nutritional quality on a scale of one to 100, workplace fare scored an average of 48. That turns out to be the same score as a Wendy’s menu. Pretty shocking stuff considering most Americans spend ⅔ of their day at work, often eating multiple meals.
Call to action: we should all think about the role our workplaces have in influencing the food we consume. Here are some ideas:
- Ask your HR department if they have considered offering healthier food options for meetings, office parties, and vending machines. Perhaps you can even think about helping them find some local caterers who could offer more nutritious food at the same cost.
- Check in with the manager of your office cafeteria.
- Consider bringing your own lunch to work, or finding some local restaurants that offer more nutritious fare.
Pre-made Meal Delivery is Reaching Hospitals
I read in a recent Next Food Economy article that one of the biggest hospitals in America just invested in the pre-made meal delivery space. While meal-delivery services — from kits to home cooks to delivery — are still struggling with logistics and labor issues, the investment arm of Mt. Sinai hospital has decided to participate in a third round of funding for Epicured, “a startup selling pre-made meals that adhere to a specialized diet said to alleviate symptoms of digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.”
The article cites some potential conflicts of interest. For instance, what’s the relationship between a not-for-profit hospital network and a for-profit startup? What’s the role of doctors in potentially becoming brand ambassadors and prescribing Epicured to patients?
Have you ever considered that doctors make referrals constantly, often to physicians within the same hospital or network? Also, according to the author, since at least 2013, doctors have been writing fruit and vegetable prescriptions that can be redeemed at farmers markets. This allows people facing issues of access and affordability, or nutrition deficiencies to supplement their existing diets with fresher food. In the case with Epicured, patients can choose to eat according to specialized diets.
So, after thinking it through a bit more, perhaps this is a win-win for hospitals and the meal-delivery space? As Fu says, when “health outcomes are strong, revenue weakens” for hospitals. The notion of investing in alternative revenue streams and diversifying courses of treatment outside of intervention may be a necessary evolutionary course for the hospital systems in the U.S.
Call to action: next time you’re at the doctor’s office, ask what kinds of healthy food prescriptions they offer and if they’ve heard of this partnership between Mt. Sinai and Epicured.
DISCLAIMER: THE MATERIALS, DOCUMENTS AND INFORMATION PROVIDED WITH RESPECT TO AN “OPPORTUNITY” IN SMNYC ARE FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DO NOT CONSTITUTE A SOLICITATION, OFFER OR SALE OF SECURITIES. NEITHER THE MATERIALS NOR SMNYC’S POSTING OF THE MATERIALS CONSTITUTE INVESTMENT ADVICE OR A RECOMMENDATION TO PURCHASE OR SELL ANY SECURITIES. THE STATEMENTS, VIEWS AND OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THE MATERIALS ARE THOSE SOLELY OF THE PROVIDER OF SUCH MATERIALS AND NOT SMNYC. SMNYC DOES NOT GUARANTEE OR ENDORSE THE ACCURACY, QUALITY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY OF THE MATERIALS OR ANY OPPORTUNITY. SMNYC IS NOT, AND DOES NOT PROVIDE SERVICES AS, AN INVESTMENT ADVISOR, INVESTMENT ANALYST, BROKER, DEALER, MARKET-MAKER, INVESTMENT BANKER OR UNDERWRITER, AND SMNYC DOES NOT RECEIVE ANY COMPENSATION OR FEE FROM THE POSTING OF ANY OPPORTUNITY ON THIS PLATFORM OR ANY CONSIDERATION AS A RESULT OF ANY DISCUSSION OR TRANSACTION WITH RESPECT TO ANY SUCH OPPORTUNITY.