Michigan Hospitals among National Leaders in Healthy Food Initiatives


Farmers Market at Beaumont Hospital. Photo courtesy of Ecology Center. (view larger image)

Farmers Market at Beaumont Hospital. Photo courtesy of Ecology Center.

by Hillary Bisnett, Ecology Center

More than a dozen Michigan hospitals were represented at the most recent FoodMed Conference: Healthy Food in Health Care in Seattle, Washington last October. They participated in sessions ranging from cost-saving strategies for local, sustainable foods to learning about the misuse of important antibiotics in agriculture. More importantly, Michigan hospitals made a splash throughout the entire two-day event by leading a session, winning two national awards and modeling a state-wide healthy food initiative.

Photo courtesy of The Ecology Center.

Photo courtesy of The Ecology Center.

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s (MHA) Brian Peters participated in a morning plenary with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Brook Belay, MD, MPH to talk about Building Community Partnerships for Change. They shared with attendees the innovative ways in which community-based organizations, governmental agencies and national initiatives can work with the health care sector to support their efforts to improve the health of the food system. Peters shared with conference attendees the MHA’s Healthy Food Hospitals campaign asking hospitals to commit to the Michigan Good Food Charter goal for institutions to buy 20% Michigan grown, processed and distributed foods by 2020.

Also during the conference, an evening reception was held to honor hospitals with the first ever Healthy Food in Health Care Awards. Sparrow Hospital was awarded a second place Policy & Advocacy Award for their work to help create the Healthy Food Hospitals initiative, to improve national bid standards with a hospital group purchasing organization and to sponsor Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan, just name a few.

Meanwhile, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital’s Lisa McDowell, MS, RD, CNSD took first place for the Clinical Engagement Award for her work to bring The Farm, nearly a 10-acre farm including two hoop houses, to reality. This farm has been instrumental in opening doors for McDowell to further share the role food plays in health with the health system’s executives, while also educating interns and students about sustainable food systems and providing leadership to the Healthy Food Hospitals initiative. (See the full list of the 2011 awarded hospitals.)

The Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) award winners are also highlighted in the 2011 Menu of Change Report.  In presenting the results of a survey on hospitals’ healthy food initiatives, this report provides updates on all the progress that HFHC Pledge signers and other health care facilities have made since 2008. (See highlights from Michigan hospitals efforts below.) The Ecology Center continues to be amazed and inspired by these leaders, including all of the accomplishments made by Michigan hospitals.


Michigan Hospital Memberships and Pledges

· 43 Michigan healthcare facilities have signed the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge (see full list)

· 92 Michigan healthcare facilities are members of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s Healthy Food Hospitals group (see honor roll)

From the Menu of Change Report:

(Information is based on data from the 2010 calendar year.)

· 13 Michigan healthcare facilities responded to the survey (of 89 total respondents)

· These facilities spend, on average, $1.9 million annually on food & beverages

· All 13 facilities have signed the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge; 3 facilities have additionally adopted a sustainable food policy

· Local Purchasing:

· 6 served locally-purchased milk daily

· 2 served locally-purchased fruit, while 6 focused on purchasing local, seasonal fruit

· 2 served locally-purchased vegetables, while 6 focused on purchasing local, seasonal vegetables

· 2 served local chicken, turkey and shelled eggs weekly

· 8 facilities reported buying food directly from farms, ranches or farmer cooperatives

· Healthy Food Access: Food & Farm Linkages

· 9 facilities offer a Farmer’s Markets/Farm Stands or Community Support Agriculture (CSA) Food Box Shares on-site