For more than 20 years, Health Care Without Harm has led the health care sector in understanding its important role in creating community resilience. Today, leading health systems are partnering with other institutions to address the environmental, social, and economic conditions impacting the health and wellbeing of people in the communities they serve. Health systems recognize that climate change is presenting new challenges to hospitals and communities that impact their ability to deliver uninterrupted services and maintain viable living conditions.

There are many aspects of resilience: environmental, economic, and social. Health Care Without Harm’s goal is to develop solutions that build resilience on all levels - food systems that support healthy eating, jobs to support local economies, and restoration of ecological systems. Health Care Without Harm supports health care institution investment in infrastructure solutions that solve for both hospital facilities and broader community needs.

As anchor institutions, hospitals, schools, universities, and municipal governments are among the largest employers in their communities, own a large proportion of real estate, and have significant economic influence. Health Care Without Harm is supporting health systems in partnerships with their communities to improve health outcomes, increase job opportunities, strengthen ecological systems, and foster community cohesion in order to build community health and resilience.

We work on resilience across our organizational programs. Below are some highlighted articles and projects.

Healthy Food in Health Care

  1. Anchors in Resilient Communities is a multi-sector community-based partnership coordinated Health Care Without Harm and the Emerald Cities Collaborative. It is comprised of representatives from key anchor institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California in collaboration with community representatives working to identify opportunities and build community resilience with an early focus on regional food economies with projects that address healthy food access, support regional food and farm businesses and create jobs in underserved communities. Health Care Without Harm is currently replicating this model in other communities across the country.
  2. In a piece written for the Health and Environmental Funders Network, Gary Cohen shares his perspectives on the most promising opportunities to use community benefit funds to achieve better community health outcomes.
  3. Delivering community benefit: Healthy food playbook Created with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the playbook inspires and supports hospital community benefit professionals and community partners in developing initiatives to promote healthy food access and healthy, local and sustainable food systems. The playbook offers information and tools to address food- and diet-related community health needs throughout the community health engagement process.
  4. New models illuminate the impact that anchor institutions can have when they combine their purchasing power: The MyCultiver Richmond Food Production Center in California, a project of ARC, will source locally and sustainably grown food to produce up to 200,000 fresh meals per day for distribution to local institutions, schools, and retail clients, will employ 200-300 local residents with high-wage jobs. ProCureWorks aims to affect change across the supply chain by leveraging the purchasing power of hospitals and schools throughout California to support local and sustainable institutional procurement and build a healthier food system.
  5. Anchors in Action alliance is a first-of-its-kind, national cross-sector partnership among Center for Good Food Purchasing, Health Care Without Harm, and Real Food Challenge. Together these groups represent more than 850 hospitals, 7,800 elementary and secondary schools, 28 public institutions in 14 cities, and 100 plus colleges and universities - representing food service budgets collectively in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Climate and Health

  1. Safe haven in the storm: Protecting lives and margins with climate-smart health care presents the business case for investments in climate resilience through a detailed analysis of the bottom line damages for hospitals from extreme weather events and the benefits of preparedness, and presents a four-prong approach for health care executives to manage extreme weather risks.
  2. The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit is designed to improve the health care sector’s ability to understand and manage their climate-related risks and opportunities, and to help them make their communities and infrastructure more resilient to extreme events.
  3. Resilience 2.0: Healthcare’s Role in Anchoring Community Health and Resilience is a report from a January 2017 cross-sector convening in Boston to catalyze climate action planning for metro Boston health care service providers and allied stakeholders in the communities they serve, and can serve as a model for other municipal and regional planning efforts.
  4. The Practice Greenhealth Delivering Community Benefit: Climate and Health toolkit is designed to help community benefit staff to identify climate-related risks in their community and prioritize solutions to both mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts, thus improving community resilience.
  5. The Climate Action Playbook captures how hospitals are demonstrating their commitment to climate change. It’s intended to inspire and engage hospitals further in climate action, providing a vivid path forward to achieving measurable progress and outcomes.


Together with several leading U.S. health systems, Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth launched Greenhealth Exchange, the first green purchasing cooperative that facilitates the procurement of products and services that are good for people and the planet.