A look at Our Lady of the Lake’s massive food operations

(Photo by Don Kadair)

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center is a hospital first and foremost. But the amount of meals it serves on a daily basis could make any local restaurant blush. Here’s a look at just how much food the hospital makes—and how precise the meals have to be for some patients.

—Robert Stewart


$1.9 million

The Lake recently reopened its café (pictured above) after completing a $1.9 million renovation. The café now features an Italian station with a woodstone pizza oven, a Louisiana Grill, self-serve soup and salad bar, expanded deli and sushi station, and a coffee house. The café generated $3 million in retail sales in 2016 and $2.9 million in 2015, the hospital says.


The hospital has 10 full-time dietitians on staff, as well as three nutrition care technicians. The dietitians are responsible for overseeing all of the meals patients receive and adapting menus to their diets. For example, the hospital has special menus for cardiac or diabetic patients, says Sheila Alford, OLOL’s clinical dietitian manager. Similar to placing orders for medicine, physicians and nurses use an electronic system for meals. “Thank goodness for our computers and electronic medical records,” Alford says with a laugh.


When Alford started at OLOL more than eight years ago, all meal orders were written down on paper. Patients were only given two options to choose from, and they had to make their orders a day in advance. “Now we have iPads that go up to the room with a catering associate, and she has access to a patient’s diet and all the foods that a patient can and cannot have,” Alford says. “The patient is able to just pick anything they want off the menu, if it’s allowed on their diet, and order it right then and there—and it can come up in the next 45 minutes.”

1 million

OLOL estimates it serves more than 1 million meals annually to patients and guests—roughly five times the amount of an average restaurant. The hospital makes an average of 1,500 meals daily for the hospital’s patients alone. In any given month, some 60,000 meals are served to patients and the public in the café.

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