Resilient Communities

Health Care Without Harm is leading the healthcare sector in moving beyond doing “less harm”—reducing negative impacts from the design and operation of health care—to a future where the sector “heals” or restores ecological, economic and social capital within communities.

As anchor institutions, hospitals are embracing a commitment to apply their social and economic influence and intellectual resources to better the long-term public and environmental health of their communities. They are rooted in place, hold significant investments in real estate and social capital, and are among the largest employers 
in their communities.

Due to their significant purchasing power
 and trusted role as authorities on health and wellness, hospitals have an important opportunity to not only increase access to healthier, more sustainably produced food for patients, staff
, and the community, but to transform the food system toward greater health and sustainability through local sourcing of goods and services and strategic investments.

An Emerging Opportunity for Resilient Communities

A recent IRS ruling, stating that nonprofit hospitals may consider as community benefits, “the need to prevent illness, to ensure adequate nutrition, or to address social, behavioral, and environmental factors that influence health in the community,” paves the way for the health sector to step up 
its investments in a wide spectrum of nutrition-related programming from acute food insecurity interventions to long-term efforts in building vibrant regional food systems by supporting local growers and economies.

Health Care Without Harm has undertaken a three-year project, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to examine hospital community benefit programming to increase healthy food access, promote healthy and sustainable food systems, and reduce risk of diet-related health conditions.

Community Benefits Resources

 

Additionally, in 2014 the Affordable Care Act (ACA) instituted changes requiring nonprofit hospitals to conduct community health needs assessments of the “community” they serve every three years, and develop an implementation plan to address these challenges.

To help hospitals transform their campuses to support upstream prevention through healthy food systems, we provide guidance and support to:

  • Provide healthy food access to their employees, patients, and communities through farmers markets, community supported agriculture programs and fruit and vegetable prescription programs.
  • Educate their eaters about how food choices and dietary patterns impact our health and protect our natural resources and climate.
  • Utilize their food purchasing decisions to support regional food economies.

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