Health care is the only sector with an explicit mission to promote wellness and treat the sick. Given the strong association between diet and wellness, improving the food system to provide everyone access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food, is in direct alignment with health care’s mission.
Health care professionals are in a unique and powerful position to impact patient behavior due to the trust placed in them by patients. Information explicitly provided to patients, as well as the implicit modeling provided by the hospital environment carries this prerogative. Patients feel that hospital food should be a model for a healthy diet.
Beyond serving patients, health care systems are large employers in many communities. In many facilities staff are population most impacted by the food offered since they eat in the cafeteria each day over many of years.
Furthermore, demonstrating a culture of health to patients and visitors through the food that is available may be of greater influence than similar efforts undertaken in other environments because a hospital is viewed as a place for healing.
Health Care Without Harm helps provide the business case for linking the mission of hospitals to activities that transform food environments and systems inside their facilities as well as in the communities they serve.
- Sign the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, a framework that outlines steps to be taken by the health care industry to improve the health of patients, communities, and the environment.
- Health and Economic Benefits from Hospital Investment in a Sustainable Food System, a research and guidance document for administrators demonstrates how investments in a sustainable food system may reduce disease burden as well as financially benefit individual hospitals and health systems.
- Environmental Nutrition Framework, a white paper that expands the definition of healthy food beyond measurable food components such as calories, vitamins, and fats, to include the public health impacts of social, economic, and environmental factors related to the entire food system.
- Can Hospitals Heal America’s Communities? “All in for Mission” is the Emerging Model for Impact, a report by the Democracy Collaborative
- The Future of Health is Local, a report by BALLE and Kaiser Permanente
- Food as Medicine: Improving Access to Healthy Food, examines the role of health care providers in helping improve the food environment for patients in California.