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Café 1878 Strives to Offer Healthier Options with New ‘Grab-N-Go’ Program


If you ask the cafeteria, or Café 1878, staff at St. Helena Hospital, the ability to offer healthier items has always been a priority. With the acquisition of a new countertop fridge, there are now selections available to go that are all made in-house and with fresh, non-packaged ingredients.

The staff member responsible for the organization and presentation of the Grab-N-Go items is Carlos Hernandez, who has been with the hospital for six years. “He really does a great job and takes ownership with each project he is given and makes it his own,” said Erick Neuharth, Nutritional Services Manager.

With more intentional coordination, the leaders in the cafeteria have made conscientious efforts in creating a menu that offers a variety of options. On a weekly basis, they meet to discuss what is working, not working, and what improvements can be made. The recipes are developed by Don Thigpen, Nutritional Services Supervisor and St. Helena Hospital employee of 34 years, and then given to the cook staff who tests the recipes and continuously tweaks them based on customer reviews.

“Our staff is incredible. Some come in as early as 5 a.m. and there are some who stay as late as 8 p.m. They all have such a great attitude and truly enjoy working with each other,” said Joanne Hatch, Nutritional Services Director, “They are ‘people pleasers’ in the sense that they have a big service mentality and will do whatever it takes to make their customers happy.”

Bertin Loyola, employee of 29 years, is the lead cook. He is responsible for breakfast and lunch, and he guides the rest of the cook team through the process of all the recipes. Alongside him are Armando Marin, Armando Hernandez, Flor Segura and Carlos Hernandez. “They take the recipes they are given, own them and tweak them until they are perfect for the customer. They really put genuine effort into making the whole experience as enjoyable as possible,” said Neuharth.

The Nutritional Services department is a complex department equipped with multiple roles. There are registered dietitians, cooks and dishwashers. There is also a group that is solely focused on preparing food for the patients.

There are many new upcoming initiatives that Café 1878 customers can look forward to, such as the “Special Produce Market.” Launching on Thursday, June 8th, the wellness committee at the St. Helena Hospital is creating a monthly food stand in the cafeteria where customers can shop for items, receive a reusable bag, and purchase fresh produce. Other initiatives include partnering with the market at Pacific Union College to expand the fresh produce offered – such as organic strawberries and blueberries.