According to The American College of Cardiology, hospital meal options provided to patients directly impact patient health. Hospital initiatives that focus on nutrition range from increasing exposure to regional farmers and vegetable to plant-based meals to ensuring that at least 40 percent of dishes served to patient meet nutritional and food profiles set by the Partnership for Healthier America. Evidence is clear—malnourished patients who received nutrition care in-stay had reduced hospital readmission rates by nearly 50 percent after 30 days of being discharged; reduced their length of stay by an average of 2.7 days; and showed a 14 percent decrease in healing complications and reduced common healthcare-acquired conditions.
An integral aspect of nutritional care and intervention relies on supplying fresh and local fruits and vegetables from local farmers. Additional support for hospital patients comes through bringing farmers markets to hospitals, a movement pioneered by Kaiser Permanente, an integrated health system in based in Oakland, CA. By decreasing the barriers for patients to access healthy and local food, institutions can help aid a long-term connection between communities and their farmers.
Presenter Jennifer Obadia, Ph.D., focuses her team at Health Care Without Harm on transitioning hospital food procurement to supporting regional food systems to create a win-win for patients and farmers. Her joint session (Farm to Hospital) with Diane Harris from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will tackle simple strategies to benefit institutional food systems to support local and nutritious fresh foods and their farmers.