Aim A new initiative to promote healthy eating at a tertiary children’s hospital involved the pilot of a fruit and vegetable vendor to set up Monday – Saturday outside the main entrance. The staff and patient response was assessed using customer questionnaires. We also conducted a telephone survey of the 16 other UK children’s hospitals to look at their access to fruit and vegetables.
Method The setting up of the stall involved discussion with a number of departments including infection control, legal services and also with current contracted caterers. It was also discussed with the council with a plan to submit planning permission subject to the arrangement continuing. The pilot was advertised on the intranet and via email to staff. Two weeks into the pilot we surveyed users of the stall at three different times of day on 3 separate days. Results were collated using Microsoft Excel. We telephoned the main desk of 16 UK children’s hospital and asked them questions relating to available access to fresh fruit and vegetables.
Results Of the 42 respondents 76% were staff, the remainder being relatives of patients. There was an even spread of ages represented and the majority had opportunistically accessed the service, although some staff had specifically gone following the communication strategy. All except one respondent felt the service, value for money and fruit was good or excellent. Of the comments made regarding the contribution of the service, they were unanimously positive. Many staff commented on the fact that it helped them to eat healthily. Of the 16 other children’s hospitals 1 had a similar service in situ for 2 days a week and 1 had an ad hoc presence.
Conclusion The presence of a fruit and vegetable stall by the front entrance to our institution has been universally welcomed. It is currently being used more by staff than patients who feel it promotes healthy eating. In the current climate of our obesogenic environment it is increasingly important to aid access to healthy options and we feel this is a trend that could be replicated in other children’s hospitals.