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National Healthier Hospitals Initiative
In April 2011, the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a national campaign to implement an approach to improving environmental health and sustainability in the health care sector, kicked off with eleven of the largest, most influential U.S. health systems. While there are six Priority Challenge areas to reduce energy and waste, choose safer and less toxic products, the Healthier Food component encompasses the following:
Baseline: Facility (or system) has signed the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge OR has formally adopted a sustainable food policy.
Commit to one or all three of the following:
Balanced Menus Challenge:
Decrease amount of meat purchased by 20 percent within three years from baseline. (Meat = beef, pork, poultry and lunch meat; measure = lbs.)
Healthy Beverages Challenge:
Increase the percentage of healthy beverage purchases by 20 percent of total beverage purchases annually over baseline year OR achieve healthy beverage purchases of 80 percent of total beverage purchases for use throughout the hospital (patient, retail, vending and catering) within three years. (Include promotion of tap water over bottled water where possible; measure = dollars)
Local/Sustainable Food Challenge:
Increase the percentage of local and/or sustainable food purchases by 20 percent annually over baseline year OR achieve local and/or sustainable food purchases of 15 percent of total food dollar purchases, within three years (Measure=dollars)
Participating Michigan hospitals include:
- Ascension Health - Borgess Medical Center
- Beaumont Health System
- Bronson Methodist Hospital
- Borgess Medical Center
- McLaren Northern Michigan
- Metro Health Hospital
- Sparrow Health System
- Sparrow Clinton Hospital
- Sparrow Ionia Hospital
- Sparrow Specialty Hospital
- Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital
- Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital
- University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers
- Vanguard- Detroit Medical Center- Huron Valley Sinai Hospital
- Vanguard- Detroit Medical Center- Sinai-Grace Hospital
- Vanguard- Detroit Medical Center- Surgery Hospital
- Vanguard- Detroit Medical Center- Harper University Hospital/Hutzel Women's Hospital
- Vanguard- Detroit Medical Center- Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan
- Vanguard- Detroit Medical Center- Children's Hospital of Michigan
Participants in HHI will have access to numerous free tools and resources to help with implementation, measurement and tracking progress. Visit www.healthierhospitals.org for more information or to sign up!
Tools, Resources & Reports
Ecology Center hosted a learning session on a promising approach to addressing obesity and chronic diseases in Detroit on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 with partners from the Washtenaw Health Department Prescription for Health Program. Nearly 40 individuals attended to learn about this fascinating obesity prevention approach. The slides from this session are now available, download below.
For more information, contact Kathryn Savoie, Detroit Community Health Director, Ecology Center at Kathryn@ecocenter.org or (313)733-0039.
Balanced Menus is a systematic approach to reduce the amount of meat protein in hospital food and a strategic pathway to serving the healthiest, most sustainably produced meat available. Through Balanced Menus hospitals can mitigate climate change, reduce costs and promote nutritional health. The Balanced Menus Challenge is a voluntary commitment by a healthcare institution to reduce their meat procurement by at least 20% within a 12-month period.
- Meatless Day of the Week. Eliminate meat one day per week in your cafeteria.
- Substitute sustainably-produced meat for one day, or in one recipe, and promote this change
- Reduce your burger size and serve sustainably-raised beef, bison or lamb
- Offer reduced prices on a particular day for meat-free or reduced-meat items
- Introduce a new meat-free recipe
- Redesign recipes to increase vegetable and grain portions and reduce meat/poultry
- Offer meals where meat is a compliment to a variety of grains and vegetables, not the center of the plate
New case study report demonstrates hospitals can save money while buying sustainably raised meats
The Healthy Food in Health Care program of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) recently developed a case study
report of several hospitals reducing their meat or substituting for more
Background: Hospitals have become concerned about antibiotics-use in animal agriculture as a result of the growth of antibiotics-resistant infections found in humans, many of which are increasingly and scientifically being linked to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in conventional meat production. The public and private hospitals featured in our report have each demonstrated a preference for meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics, or have reduced the availability of meat-based options in their food service for environmental and health reasons. The report details successes and challenges.
Greener Pastures reports on how grass-fed beef and milk contribute to healthy eating
Americans have been over consuming meat and the health care sector similarly mirrors this consumption pattern. This behavior has shown serious consequences for the health of consumers, the environment, and animals themselves. Fortunately, there are better ways to raise food animals.
Published in 2006 by Union for Concerned Scientists, Greener Pastures: How Grass-fed Beef and Milk Contribute to Healthy Eating makes the case for pasture-raised beef and dairy by not only looking at their nutritional profiles, particularly fat levels, but also examines what health benefits food producers could promote on their product labels. Also, the report claims this production method lessens environmental damage, improves animal health, and reduces antibiotic use.
Promote Healthier Beverages in Health Care
Across the country, the health care community is taking steps to eliminate sugary beverages and increase access to tap water within their facilities. By signing the pledge, you will join with the hospitals, health care professionals and health advocates nationwide who are addressing one of the primary contributors to obesity and related diseases.
In the past 30 years, U.S. obesity rates have doubled among adults and tripled among children.
The consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is associated with the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and gout.
Between 2000 and 2010 an average of 2.55 million acres of corn, roughly 2.5 times the size of the state of Rhode Island, were grown each year just to produce high fructose corn syrup.
Read more about these recommendations and additional resources are outlined in Hydrate for Health
Food Matters videos and calendars produced for clinical education
What we eat profoundly impacts the health of individuals, our communities, and the environment. Obesity, diabetes, malnutrition, childhood cancer and other chronic diseases are the costly consequences of our current consumption patterns, both in terms of human well-being and healthcare expenditures. The present model of clinical education does not place emphasis on a prevention-based approach, and excludes a thorough understanding of the impact of our food system on human health.
A Food Matters training was conducted last month in Michigan and they will continue to take place throughout the United States. The training was intended for physicians, nurses, dietitians and other clinicians, and other maternal/child healthcare professionals to review the obesity and western disease epidemics; link to the current science around exposures to environmental toxicants within our food system; and the impacts of these exposures on pediatric, reproductive, and ecological health. These short videos below and calendars have been created as educational tools for employees, patients and visitors.
Video 1: Food Matters: In the Womb & Beyond
Developed by Health Care Without Harm, San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the University of California San Francisco's Program on Reproductive Health and Environment.
Michigan regional report from 2012
During the summer of 2012, sixteen Michigan hospitals participated in the Health Care Without Harm Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) regional survey. The HFHC Survey was developed to track and measure the progress of healthy food changes made in participating hospitals. This is a companion report highlighting results from surveyed participants in Michigan. To date, Michigan has forty-six hospitals who have signed the HFHC Pledge, indicating a state-wide commitment to food procurement practices that are better for the health of hospital patients and staff, our communities, and the environments in which we live.
The Ecology Center continues to encourage Michigan hospitals to measure and self-report in Healthy Food in Health Care initiatives on an annual basis. Data collection was focused on measuring progress made by facilities in 2011.
Respondents included: Allegiance Health, Beaumont Hospital-Grosse Pointe, Beaumont Hospital- Royal Oak, Beaumont Hospital-Troy, Bronson Battle Creek, Bronson Methodist Hospital, Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, Marquette General Hospital, McLaren Northern Michigan, Mecosta County Medical Center, Metro Health Hospital, Sparrow Hospital, Saint Mary’s Health Care, Providence Park Hospital, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
During the spring of 2011, thirteen Michigan hospitals participated in the national Health Care Without Harm Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) Survey & Awards Program. This organization published a 2011 Menu of Change Report (see next story below) to disseminate information on industry benchmarks, program highlights and awards. This four-page document is a companion piece providing results based only on Michigan surveyed participants.
Background. The HFHC Survey was conducted as merely a measurement of work self-reported by hospitals and long-term care facilities engaged at some level in HFHC work. Though Award finalists were required to provide documentation, general responses were not audited. Data collection was focused on measuring progress made by facilities in 2010. Respondents from eighty-nine facilities completed the survey; thirteen of which were from Michigan.
Michigan’s Trend. In 2009, Michigan had only three HFHC Pledge signing facilities; however today, our state has forty-three HFHC Pledge Signers, a state-wide Michigan Healthy Food Work Group and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association has launched a two-year Healthy Food Hospitals initiative with over ninety participating facilities.
Menu of Change Reports contain results from bi-annual surveys conducted by Health Care Without about health care institutions engaged in Healthy Food in Health Care work. The Reports also contain a summary of HFHC national initiatives, program highlights and detailed information on the winners of the HCWH awards.
Your hospital may be interested in benchmarking your healthy food initiatives against those facilities surveyed or just simply interested in what other Michigan hospitals are doing. More than a dozen of Michigan hospitals participated in the surveys.
All Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge signing facilities will receive a hard copy of the report. You may also download copies of the reports: