A fruit and veg stall, which has been trading near the main entrance to Queen’s Hospital, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, for the past six months, has proved such a hit with patients, visitors and staff members that it’s to be a permanent fixture for up to three years.
The new initiative feeds into new food and drink and health and wellbeing strategies that are currently under development by the Trust that runs the hospital. The food and drink strategy will address the nutrition needs of patients; healthier eating for the whole hospital community, especially staff, and the sourcing and buying of catering supplies.
As part of this work a new post has been created for a catering dietician who will provide professional advice on the nutritional aspects of the Trust’s strategy. This new staff member will work with hospital caterers, ward staff and hospital dieticians across the Trust and with external suppliers.
The idea for a fresh fruit and veg stall was brought to the Trust by a staff member who saw a similar project at another hospital. Catering and Retail Manager Richard Jameson said a six month pilot was a success so the service was put out to tender to ensure the Trust was securing the best value and partnering with a quality company.
Healthy Options, which ran the pilot, won the tender and now has a contract to run the stall for 12 months. The company and the Trust have an option to extend the contract for up to a further two years if they wish.
Richard said the Trust benefits from a ground rent that Healthy Options pays and a small profit share scheme if sales reach certain levels, which are both reinvested in frontline services. The stall is open every weekday and sells a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables brought in from quality suppliers every morning, including more unusual items such as custard apples and pomelos.
Health Options staff member Tina Harris said: “We have lots of regular customers from among the hospital staff as well as patients and visitors. Some people who live locally pop across to buy from us too.”
One staff member who has benefitted from the stall is Work-Based Learning Facilitator Joy Borrington. She said: “I live the other side of Derby, but I don’t buy my fruit and vegetables anywhere else now. The quality is excellent, the prices are good and the staff members on the stall are really helpful. It makes it so convenient to make healthier food choices. Mums walking by with their children can buy them just a single piece of fruit, which is lovely. I was working until 4pm on Christmas Eve and I was able to buy a Christmas veg box from them too, which saved me a lot of time and trouble.”