The Future of Hospital Food

January 08, 2015

Sean Ruck , Editor-In-Chief

This first appeared in the January 2015 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News

Janet Howard is the director of facility engagement at Practice Greenhealth, a non-profit with the mission to improve the health of health care, both by creating a healthier environment for patients and professionals and by creating an overall healthier planet through educational efforts and best practices. HCBN spoke with Howard to get some more information on what the organization’s educating hospitals about in regard to food. 

HCBN: How much of a shift has there been with hospitals looking to serve healthier food? 
I can tell you that in addition to the healthier hospital initiative, we have a healthy food pledge. It shows a commitment to sustainability, and healthier food. Among our members in 2010, 47 percent signed it. By 2013, 69 percent had signed the pledge. While hospitals are approaching sustainability initiatives, it’s only more recently that it’s being attached to food. 

In regard to the food impact for the healthier hospitals initiative, there are three points: 

1. Balanced menus — reducing meat procurement by 20 percent and increasing the quality 

2. Local sustainable and/or organic — that’s been an exciting shift in helping hospitals in these complex procurement contracts as a way to not only reduce food miles, but also support their local communities, putting those dollars right back into the communities they serve. 

3. Addressing sugar-sweetened beverages – moving away from sugary sweetened drinks or eliminating them. 

Some hospitals we work with are challenged – because they say, we did reduce our meat offerings, but on reduced meat days, our sales aren’t good. When you look at the difference there, it’s often that some health systems have a chef there to create some interesting options. If you’re reducing meat procurement, it really must be balanced with interesting and delicious options. 

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