Last week Hennepin County Medical Center became the largest hospital in Minnesota and the first public hospital in the US to sign the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge – a voluntary commitment to introduce food that is healthy and sustainable and raise awareness of the inextricable link between human, public and ecosystem health.
More than 200 health care facilities across the US are now signatories to this Health Care Without Harm program. It outlines steps hospitals can take to increase patient and employee access to food that is not only nutritious, but supportive of local small and mid-scale farms and produced using methods which are healthy for the environment and workers.
In the coming months, the Minnesota hospital says it will be working to increase the amount of local produce they purchase in season as well as increase staff access to good produce by becoming a trial drop site for a farm that offers Community Supported Agriculture shares throughout the growing season.
‘From the way food is grown, to the way it’s packaged, shipped, prepared and discarded, hospital food purchasing decisions and food service policies can play important roles in promoting healthy lifestyles, preventing chronic disease, and contributing to ecological health,’ said David Hutchinson, family physician and president of Minnesota Academy of Family Practitioners.
Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is an international coalition that campaigns for environmentally responsible health care: hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental organizations and religious groups.
The American Nurses Association joined forces with HCWH last year and is working to raise awareness among nurses regarding the harmful effects of the use of food additives, including hormones and antibiotics; to support the public’s right to know through food labeling; to advocate for local, state, national and international regulations and polices to reduce the presence of environmental contaminants and additives on all foods; and to support local sustainable food systems.