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HFHC May/June 2010 Newsletter

Oregon Healthy Food in Health Care Newsletter

May/June 2010 


Welcome to the first addition of the Oregon Healthy Food in Health Care e-newsletter! This bi-monthly publication is an effort from the Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) team to provide updates about sustainable food efforts at participating HFHC hospitals and projects within the initiative, increase opportunities to make connections with community partners, and provide information that is useful to and supportive of hospitals working to increase the health and sustainability of the food they serve. 


Healthy Food in Health Care Update

Facilities Update

In future newsletters we would like to fill this space with stories of your work on sustainable food procurement. We envision it being a place where Oregon hospitals can share their successes, challenges, and ideas with other facilities. As with the newsletter as a whole, we hope that this section will provide each of you with the opportunity to learn from one another, be inspired by each other’s work, and find encouragement for new ideas.


We are inviting hospitals to share their stories with us to be highlighted starting with the June/July newsletter. Projects you are working on can be in progress and need not be completed to share in the newsletter. This is an excellent opportunity to get support and feedback from colleagues. Please contact Emma Sirois or Gretchen Miller with your stories and/or questions. 


The Healthy Food in Health Care Project Receives Funding from the CDC Communities Putting Prevention to Work Program 

We have exciting news to share! The Healthy Food in Health Care Project has been included as a partner in Multnomah County Health Department’s successful bid for funding from the Center for Disease Control’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work Grant Program. Winning this grant means that the CDC recognizes the critical  “disease prevention” impact of the health food in health care approach and the work health care food services in our network are doing to build healthy and sustainable food systems in our communities. 


 This 2-year program funding will start in May 2010 and will allow us to continue and expand our support for hospitals in Multnomah County to implement the goals of the Healthy Food in Health Care Initiative of Health Care Without Harm 

The three main objectives of the Project are:

  •  Support the development and adoption of sustainable food policies and implementation plans at participating hospital food service departments.
  •  Support the development and expansion of opportunities for procurement of locally and sustainably produced food at participating hospital food service – for both patient and cafeteria menus.
  •  Support the development of hospital foodservice programs that increase access to healthy, sustainable foods at participating hospitals, such as healthy vending and convenience stores, farmers’ markets and CSAs, and other strategies.


Our support will include tools, resources, trainings and one-on-one technical assistance to participating facilities.  In addition we will support several cross facility workgroups (a Policy Workgroup and a Procurement Workgroup) as well as continue to provide Roundtables – 2 annually.  To find out more and participate in upcoming events, workgroups and receive direct technical assistance please contact us! Emma Sirois or Gretchen Miller


Michigan Hospital Takes Farm-to-Health Care to a New Level

Many hospitals, including Oregon facilities, are making waves in national media with their efforts to increase locally grown, healthy and sustainable foods on their menus. A new exciting example of the monumental efforts hospitals are taking to support sustainable healthy living comes out of Michigan. There St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, signer of the HFHC Pledge, is putting roughly one acre of land next to the campus into cultivation. Through the help of draft horses, the hospital broke ground for the first of 12 hoop houses planned to be used on the land. In these structures vegetables will be grown for use in cafeteria and patient meals and for sale at a farmers’ market, with excess being donated to a hunger relief organization.

Read more about the project here.


Balanced Menus

Balanced Menus is a project of the Healthy Food in Health Care initiative. It provides a framework to assist hospitals in reducing the amount of meat protein they serve. Balanced Menus also supports hospitals serving the healthiest, most sustainable meat products available.


Meat products make take up a large portion of most American’s meals. This dietary pattern is often reflected in hospital food services. On average Americans eat 33% more meat than is recommended by the USDA, negatively impacting both individual and environmental health and sustainability. High consumption of animal fats are linked to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Environmentally, meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and water and air pollution. Furthermore, large amounts of antibiotics, hormones and arsenic are given to meat animals to promote faster growth and disease prevention from overcrowded living conditions. These practices contribute to health risks in humans such as antibiotic resistance and may promote the risk of various forms of cancer.


By reducing the amount of meat they serve, hospitals have the opportunity to provide health, social, and environmental benefits that are consistent with prevention-based medical practices.  Additionally, by transitioning to serving meat that is sustainably produced, the health of individuals can be further supported through  animal production practices that reduce carbon emissions, help mitigate pollution in waterways, is free of antibiotics, added hormones and arsenic, and produce animal proteins that contain healthier fats and more vitamins.


A recent pilot evaluation of four Bay Area hospitals that participated in Balanced Menus revealed that on average hospitals reduced their purchasing of meat protein by 28% and, if this level of reduction held steady, a cost savings of approximately $402,000 would be realized yearly.  Additionally, with this reduction in purchasing, hospitals reduced their green house gas emissions associated with meat by nearly 1,000 tons. This is equal to about the burning of 102,454 gallons of gasoline.


To participate in the project, hospitals can join the Balanced Menus Challenge in which they are asked to reduce meat purchases in patient and/or cafeteria meals by twenty percent over twelve months. In Oregon, two hospitals have already committed to taking the challenge  - Good Shepherd Hospital in Hermiston, Oregon and Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.


Community Partner Highlight

Food Alliance Supports Sustainable Foods in Oregon Hospitals

Since 2005 Food Alliance has served as an advisor to the Oregon Healthy Food in Health Care Project, supporting the Project and participating hospital facilities in understanding sustainable agriculture and the sustainable products marketplace as well as identifying and connecting with local Food Alliance Certified growers and producers. The Healthy Food in Health Care Project appreciates Food Alliance support and looks forward to continued partnership.


Food Alliance works at the juncture of science, business and values to define and promote sustainability in agriculture and the food industry, and to ensure safe and fair working conditions, humane treatment of animals, and careful stewardship of ecosystems.  Food Alliance provides a rigorous and comprehensive third-party certification for sustainably managed farms, ranches, food packers, processors and distributors. There are more than 350 certified farms and facilities responsible for over six million acres throughout North America.  Food Alliance Certified products include meats, eggs, dairy products, mushrooms, grains, legumes and a wide variety of fresh and prepared fruits and vegetables.  More than a certification program, Food Alliance is a growing network of members and affiliate businesses with shared values who have access to information, education, activities and events that encourage and support a transparent and sustainable food supply.  Become a member today!  Go to


Upcoming Events:

Mindful Mouths Seattle with Dr. Temple Grandin

Join Food Alliance for a special evening with Dr. Temple Grandin, noted livestock expert, animal welfare advocate, and best-selling author.

June 18, 2010 - Seattle, Washington - Sustainable Food Summit

This event will gather stakeholders in a sustainable food industry to discuss challenging food issues, exchange ideas and information, and network with one another. The summit will focus on the development of transparent, values-based supply chains, facilitating the flow of healthy and responsibly raised foods to retail, restaurant and food service outlets, and ultimately to informed consumers.
October 22, 2010 – Portland, Oregon


Action Alerts

Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA)

Of all the antibiotics consumed each year in the U.S. only an estimated 15 percent are used for human therapy. The bulk of the remaining antibiotics, an estimated 70 percent, are routinely given to poultry, beef cattle, and swine in their feed, not to treat diagnosed disease, but to promote faster growth and for routine disease prevention. Many such feed antibiotics are identical or very nearly so to human medicines. This currently legal, routine and unnecessary use of antibiotics in animal agriculture contributes significantly to the rise in resistant bacterial infections in humans.


PAMTA is federal legislation currently introduced in Congress that would end the use of important human antibiotics in the feed and water of animals that are not sick. To take action on this important issue:

New Guides and Resources

Balanced Menus – is a systematic approach to reduce the amount of meat protein in hospital food and a strategic pathway to serving the healthiest, most sustainably produced meat available. By visiting the website you can find more detail description of the project, sign up for the Balanced Menus Challenge, discover great reduced meat recipes, review case studies, and utilize marketing materials. Information on the healthfulness of reduced meat or meat free diets can also be found.


Food Hub – is a searchable online database connecting food producers and food buyers of all scales. It provides a comprehensive catalogue of buyers and sellers, robust member profiles, sophisticated searches to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, the ability to post a specific product you are looking for, and streamlined communication to more effectively communicate with your vendors.


Institutional Guide to rBGH-Free Yogurt Companies – Wondering if the yogurt you serve is free of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST)? Visit Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility’s rBGH webpage and click on the link for the Institutional Guide to rBGH-Free Yogurt Companies. An Excel spreadsheet will open up listing both regional and national rBGH-free yogurt companies.



Georgetown joins campaign to bring healthier menu to nation’s hospitals. Georgetown is the first of eight hospitals in Maryland to accept the Balanced Menus Challenge – which asks healthcare institutions to reduce meat purchases by twenty percent over twelve months.


U.S. is satisfying a hunger for tougher organic meat and milk rules. New federal rules that define what makes milk and meat organic have natural food advocates optimistic that the government is committed to ensuring the label means something.


Cost of food-borne illnesses is deemed much higher than earlier estimates. A new report has found that the health-related costs of food-borne illnesses total $152 billion a year, including medical bills, lost wages and lost productivity. That's more than four times an earlier USDA estimate.


Upcoming Events


11th-13thCleanMed (Baltimore, MD)

11th - Friends of Family Farms InFARMation. 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Portland, OR – 1520 SE 7th Ave., Roots Organic Brewery)

13th - "No Family History: The Environmental Links to Cancer" Film Screening (Portland, OR -  Kaiser Permanente Town Hall)

17th-19th – Community food Security Coalition’s 5th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference (Detroit, MI)



8th - Friends of Family Farms InFARMation. 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Portland, OR – 1520 SE 7th Ave., Roots Organic Brewery)

18th – Food Alliance’s Mindful Mouths with Dr. Temple Grandin (Seattle, WA)