Hospitals are big purchasers of food products, so it’s no surprise there are organizations focused on making the most of those purchases. Healthy Food in Health Care is a national initiative of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), a coalition of hospital systems and other groups that share a vision to promote better health for people and protecting the environment.
Virginia Mason’s Food and Nutrition Services recently signed HCWH’s Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, committing to eight measures to ensure the nutritional quality, economic viability and environmental sustainability of the food we serve. The good news is our Food and Nutrition team is already performing well in all measures, having made improvements in many kitchen functions during the last five years.
Highlights of our efforts to support the health of patients, staff and customers while observing sustainable food practices include:
- Completely eliminating trans fats. All VM food offerings have been trans-fat free for more than five years.
- Selecting suppliers that prohibit the use of hormones and other additives. Cafeteria customers will soon see signage to indicate organic products and items that are certified hormone- and steroid-free.
- Running a pioneering composting program during the past three years that lets food waste recycle back into useful forms once again.
- Working with food vendors and distributors who adopt local and sustainable practices. The Food and Nutrition team has made many field trips to meet these suppliers face-to-face to ensure alignment with our food-quality goals. Check out the wall display at the hospital cafeteria entrance to learn more about how VM’s food is sourced from local growers.
- Incorporating ecologically sustainable food practices. After VM’s major kitchen renovation about three years ago, garbage cans were eliminated from the cafeteria. All items are sent into the dish room, where they are sorted by staff into trash, compost and recycle bins. The majority of to-go containers, cutlery, cups and other items were switched to compostable versions. And water consumption was drastically reduced, as was the cost of waste disposal.
By signing the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, Virginia Mason is committed to continuous improvement and reporting our progress annually. For more information about the Healthy Food in Health Care initiative, visit .