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  1. News Release

  2. Jun 1, 2023

Santa Clara Valley Healthcare Becomes the First Public Hospital System in the U.S. to Offer Universal Meals

Universal Meals is part of the health system’s new Climate Pledge

Santa Clara County, Calif.— Santa Clara Valley Healthcare (SCVH) has become the first public hospital system in the nation to include Universal Meals on the cafeteria menu for employees and visitors. Recipes and instruction for Universal Meals, a new plant-based food program free of animal ingredients and the top nine allergens, are being offered at no cost at St. Louise Regional Hospital, O’Connor Hospital, and will soon be available at Santa Clara Valley Valley Medical Center. SCVH is implementing Universal Meals as part of its Climate Pledge Initiative announced this week, the goal of which is to ensure a 50% carbon reduction by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit organization with more than 17,000 doctor members, launched Universal Meals in 2021 as a means of improving the health of everyone in the hospital community and helping patients recover faster.

“Adding these recipes is part of a larger recognition that both people and the environment must be well cared for,” said Jocelyn Dubin, Lead Public Health Nutritionist at County of Santa Clara Public Health Department. “Providing inclusive options for people with food allergies and dietary restrictions builds toward greater health equity in our communities, as we strive to make the healthy and sustainable choice the easy choice for all.”    In June 2017, the American Medical Association passed a Healthy Food Options in Hospitals resolution that calls on U.S. hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by providing plant-based meals. The American College of Cardiology made the same recommendation in Planting a Seed: Heart-Healthy Food Recommendations for Hospitals.

A new and innovative concept, Universal Meals recipes are free of the top nine allergens (milk, eggs, wheat, sesame, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, and peanuts) and do not contain animal-derived ingredients; gluten-containing grains; or alcohol. 

“We are thrilled that the Santa Clara Valley Healthcare system has embraced Universal Meals with such enthusiasm to create a more inclusive dining experience,” explains Physicians Committee Culinary Specialist and Chef Dustin Harder. “We are proud to have them lead the way for public health and Universal Meals is a great step forward to creating a seat at the table for everyone.”

Universal Meals are also featured at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Video is available here of a Universal Meals tasting event hosted by Santa Clara Valley Public Health with local registered dietitians.

Media Contact

Leslie Raabe



Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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