Hospitals taking the pledge to provide healthier food

Michigan hospitals promote healthier and more sustainable food options for patients and staff.

Food – and more importantly, its origin – is becoming a hot topic across the state of Michigan. As part of the State’s Good Food Charter, several initiatives have been created that help to promote sustainable local food across Michigan Institutions like K-12 schools, hospitals, universities and correctional facilities.

Within the Healthcare Industry, this has taken the form of Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC), an initiative developed by the group Health Care Without Harm (HCWH). The HFHC Initiative uses advocacy and education to promote sustainable food procurement within health care facilities as well as connect food and food production to larger health and wellness issues.

The first step for hospitals looking to participate in this initiative is to sign a voluntary Healthy Food in Heath Care Pledge that “outlines steps to be taken by the health care industry to improve the health of patients, communities and the environment.” One particular step asks hospitals to work with local farmers, community-based organizations and suppliers to increase the use of fresh, locally-produced food. Michigan State University Extension will begin supporting this work in West Michigan with the hiring of new Community Food Systems Educator Garrett Ziegler.

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHHA) worked with the Ecology Center, an environmental non-profit based in Ann Arbor, Mich., to develop a statewide push for Michigan hospitals to sign their own version of a HFHC pledge: the Healthy Food Hospitals campaign. Many Michigan hospitals have signed the state and the national pledge and several have become leaders in the use of local food by developing onsite farmer’s markets and even growing their own food. Henry Ford West Bloomfield hospital recently opened the state’s first hospital greenhouse complete with a 1,500 sq. ft. education center. Projects like this will further bridge the gap between our health care and food industries.

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