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Fresh Food Instead of Glop for Alberta’s Seniors

Fresh Food Instead of Glop for Alberta’s Seniors
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It took an undercover investigation and a lot of angry seniors and their families, but residents of Alberta Health Service’s long-term facilities will be served real food once again.

For the past two years they have been stuck with re-heated, bland glop, stripped of flavor and light on nutrition, all in the name of slashing food budgets.

Sub-Standard Food As Cost-Cutting Measure

In December 2009 Alberta Health Services (AHS) launched a new, standardized menu for hospitals and nursing homes having fewer than 125 beds. Centralized food preparation facilities were supposed to mean cost savings. Workers were laid off. Menus were planned on a 21-day rotation.

The food was so inferior some residents stopped bothering to come to meals. Food is medicine, but the processed, heat-and-serve food was not. Staff complained of increases in urinary tract infections and wounds that healed more slowly. Nutritionists worried about the potential for more colds and flus, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer – all related to the poor diet.

On June 4, 2012, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) posted a video expose on YouTube. Tough to Swallow: Meals That Sparked a Seniors Revolt featured interviews with former and current caregivers, families, and seniors. The people stuck with the re-heated meals had plenty to say about their quality, such as:

  • “What they call Oriental beef is something brown with brownish water drizzled over it.”
  • “It all tastes just about the same.”
  • “Ten names for the different types of chicken, but it’s all pretty well the same.”

John Gilchrist, CBC radio food critic and food writer for the Calgary Herald, went to Stettler Hospital & Care Centre with hidden cameras. After sampling the food, he said:

As low as my expectations were, they managed to somehow exceed them in the quality of the food. I didn’t think that some of that food that those people were served even existed any more.

He complained of watery potatoes, glossy gravy, and meats with no flavor or texture. He said it was some of the worst food he had had in years.

Next: Agitating for Change

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Photo 1 from AUPE video; Photo 2 from Thinkstock

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12:59PM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

I agree with Nancy B, everyone deserves fresh food! it doesn't matter your age, gender, race, etc. no one should be fed crap!

2:52PM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

How terrible to treat seniors like that. They deserve healthy, tasty food that is prepared fresh each day. I hope change occurs quickly.

9:05PM PDT on Aug 10, 2012


9:01PM PDT on Aug 10, 2012

expenses matter nothing in terms of health

1:22PM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

Everyone deserves fresh food no matter their age.

9:05AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012


4:31PM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

treat seniors with equal respect as all other people, if you woudn't eat it don't expect someone else to

5:38PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012


3:59PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Who on earth would want to eat that glop? It's not fair!

3:49PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

no brainer!!!

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