This picture is not from any shopping mall. This is from a renowned, multi-speciality hospital in Mumbai. Yes, hospitals in big cities, trying to be in sync with the global culture of coffee houses and its chains, have become a replica of food courts in malls housing big, domestic and international, fast food chains serving packaged, processed food.
The pre- packed food (puffs/ pastries) and fast food culture of pizzas and burgers, by the way, is one of the major reasons why someone would even need a doctor and therefore, land in a hospital!
I happened to be at this hospital last week. One could locate a franchise café at each floor whereas there is this SINGLE canteen in the entire multi-storied building serving healthier meals like poha, idli etc. To reach to this SINGLE canteen, one would have to spend half an hour minimum, through the elevator traffic (the staircase was kept locked, conveniently) and time constraints do not make this an affordable option at all times. Hence, they are either forced to eat this pathetically low quality, insanely priced food made easily available at each floor or simply starve – both being equally dangerous and unhealthy for the patients and visitors alike. Modern day hospitals, unlike earlier, do not allow outside food (homemade or otherwise) and it further adds to the agony.
On one hand, we as a nation, are talking about climate change issues and on the other hand, important institutions like hospitals are simply contributing to landfills & plastic pollution with these cafes serving bottled mineral water/ juices/ aerated drinks and fast food wrapped in plastic films, on plastic plates.
What institutions like hospitals with added health and social responsibilities should do –
1. Promote local food (healthier and more nutritious) and support local economy
2. Have minimum one canteen or its delivery counter (serving healthier meals) at each level/floor so as to make it more accessible and available
3. Get rid of all the plastic used in food/ beverages, both from the ecological and health point of view. Its well proved that plastic going into food is detrimental to our health
What we as patients and visitors should do –
1. Avoid taking food from these conveniently located cafes serving convenience food
2. Ask/demand the hospitals to ban these cafes, promote healthier food and reduce their plastic footprints