I am investigating and developing a food and dining experience for children’s hospitals that will provide patients and families with experiences that transport them emotionally outside of the hospital, without compromising the care of the child. It is well established that how patients perceive their hospital experience directly ties to health outcomes and recovery. Additionally, research has also shown that – particularly for children – the hospital experience can be so traumatizing that it damages the well-being of the child in the long run. This food and dining experience consists of two parts:
- An accessible pop-up restaurant that accommodates different health situations, preferences, and cultures. Since the current options for food in the hospital are limited to overcrowded and repetitive cafeterias, and chain eateries that only serve American food, a pop-up restaurant provides an opportunity for a positive community experience.
- An interactive component that allows patients to engage with food or food systems in a fun, safe, and inspiring way. The proposed interactive component involves events such as cooking classes, competitions (i.e. the Chopped model), and interactions with celebrity chefs.
Hospitalized children are already missing out on other developmental opportunities such as school and peer interaction. As research has shown that frequent family meals lead to better lifelong outcomes for children, a positive food experience could give them a developmental opportunity back and build a healthier lifelong relationship with food.