Healthy Living: April is National Nutrition Month

April is National Nutrition Month and in tonight’s healthy living, we’re looking at two stories about food.

First, the Poway Unified School District is facing a lawsuit over the school lunch meat it serves to its students. 

The suit was filed Wednesday by the nonprofit advocacy group, "Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine."

The group wants the district to stop service processed meats like hot dogs, sausages and bologna because they said it violates the state education requirement that all schools foods be of the "highest quality" and "greatest nutritional value possible."

The LA Unified School District is also being sued.

Neither school district has responded.

Second, when you think of hospital food, words like savory and delicious don’t usually come to mind. 

But at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, the new chef behind some top notch restaurants, catering to Hollywood celebrities, is leading the way with healthy, organic, locally-sourced creations.

Patients and hospital staff actually look forward to eating.

There’s a healthy menu movement happening inside kitchens at hospitals across the country.  And Escondido’s Palomar Medical Center is at the forefront.

"Right now they’re in the middle of lunch service, so basically we’re serving about 300 patients," said Chef John Mendall.

And while the hospital has a state of the art kitchen many chefs would salivate over….

"Nothing has been spared, when I walked into the kitchen for the first time I was blown away," Chef John Mendall said. 

It’s the fresh, organic, locally sourced food that has people talking.

"Right now I’m doing a fresh Mahi Mahi fish taco with mango salsa, tortilla’s from Esperanza’s right here in Escondido. We bring everything in from local vendors, local fish, produce," Chef John Mendall said. 

Executive Chef John Mendall is the master of the menu and the hospital café. And his kitchen staff couldn’t be happier.

"We haven’t had a chef and so we’ve been open almost 4 years and so it’s a please to have John as an executive chef at Palomar," said Patient Services Supervisor Gelita Bain. 

And not just any chef. Mendall has conquered the kitchens in some of San Diego’s most popular restaurants and over the years served his farm to table creations to president’s, movie stars and rock bands. His latest project is a one of passion.

"So basically, what I’m gonna do is theme this entire area with fresh ingredients and turn this place on its ear," he said. 

He’s got big plans for an herb garden and by summer ensuring 60 percent of the menu is comprised of plant based selections.  

"When people used to think of hospital food the one thing they’d talk about is airplane food and hospital food. It was horrible. That’s not what we’re doing here," Chef John Mendall said. 

What they’re doing here is creating more than delicious meals the motto here is healthier food is good medicine. 

"Think about it, we’re not giving people pesticides, we’re giving people better alternatives as far as the greens they eat, or the grains they eat. Not eating processed foods. We’re not putting poisons into their bodies. I want people to come in and the food to be part of what they can look forward to and take care of themselves while they’re here. So you’re part of the healing?  Absolutely!" Chef John Mendall said. 

Chef Mendall, who is diabetic, knows first-hand how important good food is to your health. He said it’s his life-long dream to be making a difference for others. 

Categories: Healthy Living