NEW MILFORD — One of the town’s popular dining establishments is now offering OrderIn, a curbside pickup service.

New Milford Hospital’s Plow to Plate cafeteria, in cooperation with Unidine Corporation, has built a reputation for its fresh, healthy and made-from-scratch food.

Now the baked goods, soups, sandwiches, salads, meals and desserts are available for customers to pick up curbside.

“I am excited to try out the curbside pickup,” said Leo Ghio, senior advisor/municipal agency for the elderly in New Milford, who has been a frequent patron of the cafeteria.

“Walking over to the hospital to grab lunch was always the highlight of my workday (pre-pandemic); the food was fresh, plenty of options to choose from,” he said. “And, of course, the staff, who have become more like friends over the years, always provided the best customer service in town.”

Plow to Plate is the hospital’s nationally recognized farm-to-table program that began in 2006 in concept but became a reality in 2009 as a response to growing trends in obesity and related diseases.

Hospital executives, area physicians, farmers and town officials, in cooperation with Unidine, collaborated to create the program that uses fresh produce from local farms.

“We’re very excited,” said Kerry Gold, dining services director. “I’m doing it because I’ve always been about the community and providing good nutrition.”

“We help out where we can,” he said. “And I really believe it’s going to take off.”

Patrons are invited to call ahead to place an order for general lunch or dinner orders. Staff will prepare and package food and provide curbside pickup Mondays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A variety of lunch and dinner options are available for individuals and families.

In addition, the hospital’s Senior Suppers program continues, in cooperation with senior centers in New Milford, Sherman, Bridgewater, Roxbury, Kent, Washington, New Fairfield and Brookfield.

“People are still in need out there,” Gold said of the Senior Suppers program. “We need to support our seniors.”

Senior dinners, consisting of an entrée, a starch, a vegetable, a small soup, a salad, a dessert and a beverage, are offered weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. for $5.

“Kerry came up with this (OrderIn) idea which I think is really fantastic,” said Dr. Thomas Koobatian, executive director of the hospital, who has long been involved in the goals of the cafeteria in sourcing local food and supporting seniors, the cancer center and community. “It allows us to at least be able to provide nutritious meals to our seniors and to others in our community, so we can reengage with them.”

“When the coronavirus pandemic started, we had to seal up the building to not allow the spread, and with that we excluded a large number of people who regularly used our cafeteria whether for lunch on a regular basis or were part of the Senior Supper program,” Koobatian said.

Gold said once restrictions were established in March, he began thinking of how to continue to safely offer cafeteria services while maintaining the Plow to Plate philosophy and reputation.

Initially, a staff-only mini mart opened in the cafeteria. Staff bought produce, milk, cold cuts, eggs and butter. Shortly thereafter, a family meals-to-go program began for staff, since the hospital does not permit visitors.

Individuals who have out-patient service have been able to — and can still — purchase items at the cafeteria.

Gold said the mini mart and family meals programs have “gone through the roof” and will continue in the future for the staff.

Although it’s taken time to put in place, he expects the OrderIn program to take off, too.

“There’s a bunch of us that have been waiting for this to happen,” said eight-year customer Steven McCarthy, who frequented the cafeteria several times a week before the pandemic began.

McCarthy said he appreciates the “variety” of offerings and the fact Gold is “an excellent chef” who serves “good stuff.”

Patrons can choose from chicken salad, tuna salad, honey roasted roast beef, honey cured pit ham and house roasted turkey breast to build their own sandwich. Cheese and choice of bread are available.

The cafeteria’s colorful salad bar has long been a popular feature. Greek, classic Caesar, Cobb and house salads can be ordered. And daily special salads include Asian chicken, goat cheese and beet, Santa Fe steak, grilled salmon and avocado, and wheat berry and quinoa spinach.

Daily sandwich specials — such as heirloom tomato, roast beef on garlic toast, BLT, Thanksgiving, and curry chicken salad wrap — and paninis and pasta dishes are also available.

An entrée of the day, seared salmon with lemon dill and chicken Francais are among the entrée offerings.

Bundled meals, which include an entrée, two sides and salad or dessert, can be packaged for a party of two or four.

A soup of the day and chicken noodle soup round out the menu.

To view the menus, visit www.plowtoplate.org . To place a general order or a Senior Supper order, call 860-210-5011. Orders will typically be ready to pick up within 30 minutes of placing an order. Customers can park in one of the six “Food Service Pick Up” parking spaces and follow the instructions on the sign. A dining service representative will bring an order to the vehicle, where customers can pay by credit card without leaving their vehicle. Orders will be accepted Mondays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Senior Suppers will be available from 4 to 6 p.m.