Hospitals are in a unique position to support healthy food access programs that respond to needs in their communities.
By tying local food systems development to patient and community health outcomes health care, can achieve its core mission, reduce the cost of health care related to food insecurity, and deepen community relations.
- Hospital campuses can be great places to host farmers markets, food pantries, or as a site for distributing community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares.
- A growing number of hospitals have their own garden or farm on their grounds that is connected to their community benefit programming.
- Further, these efforts build on a hospital’s commitment and progress towards purchasing more local and sustainable food for their operations and collaborating with community organizations to strengthen the local/regional food system.
Leading by example
Leadership (especially at the CEO level) who possess a strong understanding of and commitment to addressing the root causes of health are key facilitators for hospital investment in community health.
80 percent of hospital respondents reported their leadership is committed to addressing social needs as part of clinical care in a recent study by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.
Additionally, healthy food access initiatives present an opportunity to stimulate work across departments with the positive impact felt in the community but also with staff and allied boards and committees. Engagement of community benefit, food service, employee wellness and hospital boards of directors can complement wellness and nutrition efforts for each division.
Obesity and poor nutrition were among the four priority health needs identified by Spectrum Butterworth's community assement. The hosptial offered investments of staff time, in-kind resources, and grant funding supporting partnerships to run a food pantry and pilot an innovative membership-based community grocery store model.
Delivering community benefit
- How to identify your community benefit lead
- Connecting dots between healthy food programming and community benefit