As reported in The Chronicle two weeks ago, the kosher kitchen at UPMC Montefiore Hospital has closed, and freshly made kosher meals will no longer be available to patients at the Oakland and Shadyside facilities.
“Kosher meals will be provided by Sampo Distributors from now on,” UPMC media coordinator Amy Dugas said. “Kosher meals will be sent to the hospital three to four times a week.”
Instead of having fresh kosher meals, all the meals served to patients keeping kosher will be frozen and individually wrapped. While not the best option for providing kosher food, Rochel Shlomo, co-owner of Sampo, said that at least providing kosher foods to patients is the most important thing.
“The meals are nothing special,” she said, “but they will have kosher meals. They will fulfill the obligations. UPMC is taking this very seriously and making sure everything will be kosher.”
“Everything will be kosher to the highest degree and everyone will be comfortable with the level of kosher,” she added. “We just want to try and make people happy.”
However, Shlomo did express remorse for the loss of the fresh kosher meals prepared for patients, saying that the kitchen closing was a big loss.
“It was a tremendous loss to the community not having that kitchen,” she said. “They were able to take care of any patient regardless of dietary needs. Now, they cannot do that.”
While just about every part of the meal will be frozen, some items, such as potato salad and coleslaw, will be fresh for patients, Shlomo said. Sampo will also listen to feedback from patients about what meals are working and what meals aren’t. Based on their feedback, she said, Sampo will do its best to provide the meals that patients want the most.
“We’re just looking all over to see if we can find a good quality,” Shlomo said. “If people aren’t happy we can switch things out and if they are then we will keep things going.”
(Mike Zoller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)