Meals For The NHS Fridges allow 24/7 food access
27 Mar 2023
Smart fridges have been installed across Whittington Hospital, giving staff, patients and visitors access to healthy food options at all hours.
Whittington Hospital is now fitted with seven smart fridges and three smart hot drink machines, giving staff, patients, and visitors access to healthy and affordable food options at all hours.
Tim Radcliffe, Net Zero Food Programme Manager and lead on 24/7 food at NHS England, toured the new machines calling them, "...a shining example of what can be achieved when true collaborative partnerships are in place."
The fridges are provided by Meals For the NHS, which started as a non-profit organisation that supported the NHS and local food businesses in the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering hot food to hospitals.
During the first wave, Meals For the NHS delivered 300,000 hot meals funded by charitable donations to 146 hospitals across the UK. Their mission now is to roll out smart fridges across NHS sites so they can continue to give NHS staff access to nutritious, delicious and affordable meals.
The Meals For the NHS smart fridges are stocked with a variety of hot and cold, gluten-free, Halal and vegan or vegetarian food. The smart hot drink machines even offer oat milk as an alternative option to cows milk - ensuring all staff dietary needs are catered for.
The smart fridges are proving to be very popular at the Whittington. Over a 6-month period, a smart fridge installed in Whittington’s Emergency Department staff room sold over 3,000 food items – almost half between the hours of 7:00pm and 7:00am.
Accessing nutritious food has been an issue for staff who find it difficult to find the time to leave their busy ward, or for staff who start their shift when the hospital’s cafes and restaurant are closed. Many staff go hungry, or are often left eating from vending machines that do not have any healthy options.
Recommendations from an independent review to NHS England’s Healthcare Food Standards and Strategy Group highlighted this issue and action was taken. Soon, it will be a mandatory requirement that NHS hospitals demonstrate that they have suitable food and drink provisions available for all staff over a 24/7 service period.
A nurse at Whittington Health said, “being a nurse means missing mealtimes quite often, whether your working the day or night shift, it can be extremely busy. Often the canteen closes before being able to slip away for something to eat, this meal fridge come in very handy, and the meals are delicious.”
Kate Cormican, Project Manager at Whittington Health said, “we are very proud of what we have achieved in partnership with the Meals For the NHS team and delighted to show off the fridges and share the positive impact that this has had on staff wellbeing.”