Heathcare Group Promotes Local, Sustainable Foods

Hospitals and other healthcare operations are increasing their demands in this area, as well, thanks in part to efforts of groups like Health Care without Harm. The international coalition of 473 organizations in more than 50 countries works to “transform the health care sector so it is no longer a source of harm to people and the environment.”

In foodservice operations, the organization promotes its “Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge.” To date, some 200 hospitals and other healthcare facilities have taken the pledge, which includes a commitment to:
•    Work with local farmers, community-based organizations and food suppliers to increase the availability of locally-sourced food.
•    Encourage our vendors and/or food management companies to supply us with food that is, among other attributes, produced without synthetic pesticides and hormones or antibiotics given to animals in the absence of diagnosed disease and which supports farmer health and welfare, and ecologically protective and restorative agriculture.
•    Implement a stepwise program to identify and adopt sustainable food procurement. Begin where fewer barriers exist and immediate steps can be taken. For example, the adoption of rBGH free milk, fair trade coffee, or introduction of organic fresh fruit in the cafeteria
•    Communicate to our Group Purchasing Organizations our interest in foods that are identified as local and certified.
•    Educate and communicate within on our system and to our patients and community about our nutritious, socially just and ecological sustainable food healthy food practices and procedures.
•    Minimize or beneficially reuse food waste and support the use of food packaging and products which are ecologically protective.
•    Develop a program to promote and source from producers and processors which uphold the dignity of family, farmers, workers and their communities and support sustainable and humane agriculture systems.
•    Report annually on implementation of this Pledge.

By supporting the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, facilities are demonstrating leadership by “sending an important signal to the marketplace and policy makers about their interest in local, nutritious, sustainable food and importantly, beginning to model healthy food practices in an ongoing stepwise fashion,” according to the company’s Web site.   More information on the group’s initiatives and lists of organizations that have taken the Pledge can be found at http://www.noharm.org.

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