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Links: Hospitals and Healthy Food

By Molly Miller 

In recent years, local food movements have been booming in locales from Boston, Massachusetts to Little Rock, Arkansas. This month’s Stakeholder Health E-Zine is centered on the ways in which hospitals can partner with healthy food initiatives in order to improve the health of their patients, staff, and the surrounding community. Below, you will find reports, tools, articles, videos, and links to initiatives that have seen success in integrating food programs into their care plans.

Reports and Case Studies

Union of Concerned Scientists (2014), “Hospitals and Healthy Food Policy Brief” – This report outlines opportunities for nonprofit hospitals and health systems to utilize the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program, designed to provide subsidies to SNAP beneficiaries for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables, to meet the community benefit requirements included in the Affordable Care Act.

Randy Oostra (2015), “A Case to End U.S. Hunger Using Collaboration to Improve Population Health” – This monograph, produced by ProMedica, a member of Stakeholder Health, outlines the intrinsic link between reducing food insecurity and improving patient health outcomes. ProMedica provides information about innovative methods for combating hunger in its Toledo, Ohio community including repackaging food, mobile farmers markets, and the establishment of the ProMedica Ebeid Institute for Population Health. The monograph ends with a call for health care providers across the country to consider the links between social determinants of health and patient outcomes by embracing practices such as routine hunger screenings and adding more primary care physician slots in their practices.

Health Care Without Harm (2015), “Utilization of Community Benefits to Improve Healthy Food Access in Massachusetts – “As nonprofit hospitals begin to engage in their next round of community health improvement efforts, the main purpose of Health Care Without Harm’s report Utilization of Community Benefits to Improve Healthy Food Access in Massachusetts is to provide hospital leaders and community stakeholders with an overview of the ways in which hospitals are using or could be using their community benefit resources to address food access issues within the Commonwealth.”

Tools

Health Care Without Harm/Practice Greenhealth (2014), “Creating Healthy Retail Food Environments in Health Care Facilities” – Provides information on ways in which hospitals can improve the food environment within their four walls as well as best practice recommendations and case studies about hospitals that have successfully implemented healthy food policies.

Health Care Without Harm (2007), “Farmers’ Markets and CSAs on Hospital Grounds” –Provides step-by-step information for hospitals interested in establishing on-site farmers’ markets or CSAs.

Health Care Without Harm, “Healthy Food in Health Care: A Menu of Options” – Provides fourteen recommendations for how hospitals can harness their purchasing power to affect positive change within the food production and distribution chain. 

Articles

Natasha Singer (2010), “Eat an Apple (Doctor’s Orders),”New York Times – Examines the impact that “prescription produce” programs have had on three Massachusetts health centers and their surrounding communities.

Kelsey Brimmer (2013), “Disruptive Innovators: Hospitals increase community access to healthier food”, Healthcare Finance News – Outlines the impact of the Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge on several health systems, including Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Steward Healthcare in Boston, Massachusetts.

Steve Holt (2015), “Hospitals Supporting Healthy, Local Food? Thanks, Obama.” Civil Eats – Describes the ways in which a new rule for implementing the Affordable Care Act has encouraged hospitals to partner with local food movements to improve the health of their communities. 

Videos

The Union of Concerned Scientists, “An Apple A Day” – Presents a quick and comprehensive overview of the economic and health impacts that an improved diet can have in the United States and advocates for better food policy across the country.

WGTE Toledo Stories, “ProMedica: Revealing Hunger” Video Series – Uses interviews, photos, and testimonials to tell the stories of real individuals and families dealing with food insecurity and hunger.

Initiatives

Health Care Without Harm – Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of organizations pushing for a more ecologically sustainable health care system. In 2005, Health Care Without Harm launched its Healthy Food in Health Care initiative to support health care facilities as they work to improve the connection between the health of their patients, staff, and surrounding community by serving healthier food.

Healthier Hospitals Initiative – The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) is a coalition of twelve of the country’s largest health systems, Health Care Without Harm, Practice Greenhealth, and The Center for Health Design that works towards creating a more sustainable health care business model. Participating hospitals commit to one or more of the following challenges in order to effect change within and without of the hospital walls: Engaged Leadership, Healthier Food, Leaner Energy, Less Waste, Safer Chemicals, or Smarter Purchasing.

Wholesome Wave – Wholesome Wave seeks to improve access to affordable, healthy, and local food through initiatives such as the Double Value Coupon Program and the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, among others. Since it was founded in 2007, Wholesome Wave’s movement has expanded to include 33 states and the District of Columbia.

Photo: Farmers market downtown Lafayette, Indiana, Creative Commons, Alan Stanton