Pennsylvania hospital makes healthy choices easier than ever

Penn Hospital salad bar with colored tongs_newslettersGreen and red tongs are used to indicate the healthfulness of certain options
at Pennsylvania Hospital's salad bar. (Salvatore M. DiPalma, executive chef) 

Choosing healthy and sustainable food options has never been easier for diners at Pennsylvania Hospital. Large television monitors over its bountiful salad bar and in the cafeteria highlight many local ingredients. Green and red tongs are used to indicate the healthfulness of certain options. Executive chef Salvatore M. DiPalma also offers local items in pre-made salads, and other grab and go items made from scratch.

There is a display of local items in the café including canned organic tomatoes and apple butter. Locally sourced products are also sold at coffee carts in the hospital. Fresh fruit and healthy snacks are attractively displayed at the cashier stations.

Even the vending machines offer healthy, local foods. In March, the Pennsylvania Hospital nixed sugar-sweetened beverages and started offering healthy snacks. As of June 30, all hospitals within Penn Medicine will no longer offer sugar-sweetened beverages to patients, staff, and visitors.

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Hospital is one out of 18 hospitals that participate in Good Food Healthy Hospitals. In 2014, Get Healthy Philly (Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health) joined with The Common Market and the American Heart Association to build this initiative and transform hospital food environments.

Participating hospitals pledge to offer healthier and more sustainable food and beverage options to patients, staff, and visitors every day.

Penn Hospital salad bar_websiteLarge television monitors over its bountiful salad bar in the cafeteria
highlight many local ingredients. (Salvatore M. DiPalma, executive chef) 

Pennsylvania Hospital uses The Common Market, a mission-driven distributor of sustainable, local farm foods, as their trusted local food supplier. The Common Market connects institutions and communities with good food from over 200 producers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

The Good Food Healthy Hospitals initiative includes food and beverage purchasing guidelines. Hospitals are recognized as they reach levels of achievement. Levels of recognition ranging from bronze to platinum are based on signing the Good Food, Healthy Hospitals Pledge and the number of standards achieved.

“We expect to be gold by the end of June,” says Carolyn Tobin, director of food and nutrition, and environmental services.

Hospitals are also awarded for innovation when they go above and beyond the standards to achieve best practices or develop creative programs to increase access to healthy options and engage their community in healthier eating in novel ways.

The initiative continues to expand the work in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health engaging institutions across the state. Funding is provided through the State Physical Activity and Nutrition grant and Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.