Hospital’s food and nutrition departments can help ensure healthy food access both within and outside their walls.
Expanding healthy food access
Many health care system staff — especially those working in food service, nutrition, and procurement departments — are pursuing activities to increase access to healthy foods.
At the same time, community benefit staff are undertaking community health activities to address health priorities such as food insecurity, diet-related diseases, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
By working together, these groups can share expertise and resources to more effectively — and simultaneously — address nutrition and health goals.
By collaborating with other departments strategies hospitals can:
- Increase local and sustainable procurement.
- Develop a comprehensive healthy and sustainable food service policy.
- Invest in community-driven strategies that address healthy eating.
There are numerous ways that your food service department can collaborate with community benefit to provide support for healthy food access programs:
- The nutrition expertise in food service can be harnessed to enhance the plans, programs, and impact of community benefit interventions targeting food access and diet-related disease.
- The knowledge of and connections with farmers and food businesses producing healthy sustainable food in the region can be leveraged in food access programs (farmers markets, mobile markets, community-supported agriculture).
- Chefs, dietitians, and food service professionals can support nutrition education and cooking demonstrations connected to healthy food programs.
- Physical space and storage can be provided for healthy food distribution programs.
Montefiore's community-focused efforts complement the hospital’s work, through its food service and clinical care initiatives. Guided farmers market walks, a produce incentive program, health education and diabetes prevention classes for patients, and a healthy corner store program are all ways Montefiore works to improve health in the Bronx community.