Hundreds Gather in Seattle for Healthy Hospital Food Conference


October 26, 2011
Health Care Without Harm Press Release
Contact: Eileen Secrest  540-479-0168

Hundreds Gather in Seattle for Healthy Hospital Food Conference

Conference Reflects Growing Hospital Interest In Sustainable Food Sourcing, Less Industrialized Food System

Seattle, WA — FoodMed 2011, the nation’s most important conference on sustainable food in health care, has wrapped up in Seattle, WA. Hundreds of hospital food service managers, nutritionists, dietitians, chefs, public health professionals, authors, suppliers, and growers gathered to share information and learn new strategies to develop sustainable hospital food services procurement and operations. The conference, sponsored by the Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Healthy Food in Healthcare Program, is part of a growing movement in hospitals to serve fresher, sustainably produced food to improve health and to support a healthy food system.

“This conference really demonstrates how food service professionals can do something locally that has a global impact,” stated Michelle Gottlieb, co-chair of the Healthy Food in Health Care Program at HCWH. “More and more hospitals are making changes to support a healthier and sustainable food system that promotes healthier people, economically viable and vibrant communities, and a healthier planet.”

HCWH’s Healthy Food in Health Care Program has been on the forefront of efforts to reduce the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in animals raised for food. They have also worked to end the feeding of arsenic to chickens. In addition to serving fresher, less processed foods, many hospitals have begun composting, recycling and promoting farmer’s markets to staff and visitors. In 2010, the HFHC program launched Balanced Menus, an effort to reduce the amount of meat served in hospitals as an effort to reduce greenhouse gases and promote climate and human health.

The First Annual Sustainable Food Awards were also presented during FoodMed 2011. Awards were presented to nine hospitals for excellence in sustainable food procurement, public policy and advocacy, food-climate-health connection; and to three individual health care clinicians who made the connection between our industrialized food system and public health. [Note: for a list of these award winners, visit the HCWH press release of September 27.] HFHC also released its 2011 Menu of Change Report at FoodMed 2011, which included results of a survey of hospital food practices, from which the award winners were chosen.

“I think this is the most energized and inspiring group of people I have been around,” said Lucia Sayre, co-chair of the HFHC program and Co-Director, Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The attendees can’t wait to get back home and put what they’ve learned into practice. FoodMed helps seed a new cadre of leaders and future award winners. That is what is so important about this conference—we are inspiring hospitals to demand healthier and sustainable food from their suppliers, and become advocates for a healthier food system.”

Participants learned to incorporate sustainable and nutritious food purchasing at their facilities, and heard about cost effective strategies that emphasize health concerns that meet the unique needs of healthcare and facilitate the development of healthy communities. Presentations were geared towards healthcare providers, dieticians, hospital food service directors and health care food procurement and distribution professionals. Several pre-conference activities took place, including a farm tour and hospital cafeteria tour.

Keynote and plenary speakers at FoodMed 2011 included Melinda Hemmelgarn, a registered dietitian, “investigative nutritionist,” and award-winning writer and radio host, better known as “the Food Sleuth”; Oran Hesterman, Founder, President and CEO of Fair Food Network and author of FAIR FOOD: Growing A Healthy Sustainable Food System for All.; Gus Schumacher, Executive VP, Wholesome Wave.

Heath Care without Harm, an international coalition of more than 473 organizations in 52 countries, is working to transform the health care sector, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. To learn more about HCWH’s work, visit our website at www.noharm.org, our YouTube channel at HCwithoutharm, and our twitter feed at hcwithoutharm.

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