Healthier Food

Providing nutritious, sustainably produced options to patients and employees

We continue to refine and improve our nutrition services as we strive to source food that is healthy, locally grown by farmers we know, and has the gentlest environmental impact in its production. Throughout our food journey we’ve found, that in most cases, the healthiest food option is also the most environmentally friendly one.

Nutrition Committee

2014 UH Nutrition Committee Priorities

Established in 2013, this multidisciplinary committee provides an integrated approach to improving our food procurement and menu planning practices to optimize the quality, healthfulness and sustainability of our food offerings. Multidisciplinary representation includes the Office of Sustainability, Supply Chain contract administrators, clinicians, Nutrition Services managers and chefs, dietitians, Wellness/ACO program leads, and external food vendors. In 2014, this committee sought to execute specific food goals related to our HHI commitments as well as internal sustainability and wellness priorities. Highlights included the following:

  • Increased sustainable and local spend to > 5 percent of total food spend
  • Increased healthy, nonsugar-sweetened beverage spend to >50 percent of total beverage purchases
  • Began purchasing antibiotic-free meat, reaching 20 percent of total system meat purchased (by weight)
  • Convened local food purchasing collaborative with neighboring anchor institutions who use common distribution networks in an effort to leverage our demand in aggregate to source from local farmers

Additionally, great efforts were made throughout the year by our nutrition services provider in remodeling our retail cafes to increase product range and visibility of healthy beverages and other food items.

Proportion of dollars spent on sustainable and local foods

Our proportion of sustainable and/or local food spend increased from to 5.5 percent from 4 percent in 2013

Proportion of dollars spent on total beverages Proportion of dollars spent on healthy beverages

Our healthy beverage spend increased from 48 percent of total beverages in 2013 to 52 percent in 2014

Antibiotic stewardship extends into our kitchens

The majority of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animal agriculture, mostly for nontherapeutic purposes (such as growth promotion and routine prophylaxis in industrial agricultural settings). Antibiotics used in animal agriculture are often closely related to antibiotics used for human therapy, and there is a growing body of evidence that links the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture to antibiotic resistance in human pathogens.

With support from clinical leaders of our antibiotic stewardship and infection control programs, UH began purchasing antibiotic-free ground beef, burger patties and chicken for our retail cafeterias, patient meals and catering applications. This represents about 20 percent of the total pounds of meat we purchase. By preferentially purchasing meat raised without nontherapeutic antibiotics, University Hospitals is helping to safeguard antibiotics’ effectiveness in treating people and supporting the development of healthier agricultural practices nationwide.

Healthy Harvest

2014 was the second year for Healthy Harvest, a produce provision and nutrition education program for patients who experience barriers to healthy food access. Upon a successful pilot season in 2013 at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, the program was expanded to reach a broader pool of patients and their families in order to foster healthy and sustainable food choices.

2014 Highlights:

  • Quadrupled number of patients served from 2013 to nearly one thousand patients and family members
  • Hosted two special events to kick off and close out the Healthy Harvest season during spring and fall; approximately 50 patients and family members attended these engaging and fun events
  • Participants surveyed reported sustained positive change in food purchasing and preparation knowledge and practices

Food Day, October 24

Food day photo contest first prize winner

Food day photo contest first prize winner, Leslie Noss, Group Exercise Coordinator, UH Avon Health Center

University Hospitals Office of Sustainability hosted the third annual food photo contest for all UH employees to celebrate healthy, affordable, responsibly grown food. Participants submitted a digital photograph that illustrates how they are incorporating real, wholesome, unprocessed food into their lives. Photos could be of a participant’s home garden or farm, a favorite home-cooked dish, a fun shot of a family cooking night, or anything else that involves healthy, local food.

10 Environmental Excellence awards

UH earned 10 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award. The awards recognize our health system’s achievements in environmental-sustainability programs and improvements during 2015.

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