Farm to Health Care

For Technical Assistance Contact: Jenna Newbrey, Northwest Program Coordinator, Health Care Without Harm


Health Care Without Harm Logo and pictureFarm to Health Care Overview

King County health care facilities, along with the assistance of nonprofits and local jurisdictions have been working to improve the health and sustainability of food at their hospital campuses and health centers. Leaders at Seattle Children’s Hospital, University of Washington Medical Campus as well as other institutions ranging from senior care facilities and nursing homes are encouraged to improve the food served in health care facilities, support our region’s farmers, and protect our environment. Through collaborative partnerships and industry leadership supported by Health Care Without Harm, King County’s Health Care Facilities can access resources. The program also supports supply chain entities that serve the healthcare market such as distributors, foodservice management companies, and group purchasing organizations (GPOs).

Farm to Health Care Resources

Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) is a national initiative of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), developed in conjunction with its member organizations. We work with hospitals across the country to help improve the sustainability of their food services. Founded in 2005, the program provides education, tools, resources, and support to health care facilities, making the connection between the health of patients, staff and community and the food they serve.

The Healthy Food in Health Care program harnesses the purchasing power and expertise of the healthcare sector to advance the development of a sustainable food system. Through advocacy, and education, we motivate facilities to implement programs that explicitly connect all aspects of the food system with health. We catalyze sustainable procurement efforts, create clinician advocates, and inspire health care institutions to become leaders in shaping a food system that supports prevention-based health care

New to Farm to Health Care? Start Here

HFHC’s Menu of Options is the best place to start if you are new to buying local food for your health care facility. Many healthcare institutions have begun to adopt practices and policies to support a healthy food system. Following these case studies, your facility can improve the quality of food choices by choosing among the recommendations offered in this menu to improve the quality of your food choices.

Health Food in Health Care Website & Resources

Comprehensive information aimed at leveraging the relationship between food and health to promote and healthier food system. The goal of the site is to provide tools and resources including how to guides, reports, factsheets, topics of discussion, policy suggestions, and initiatives and recognition programs for the healthcare industry to advance the topic of sustainable and healthy food. Tip: use the sidebar under Issues and Programs to navigate or our quick links below.

Healthy Food Topics

Healthy Food in Health Care has selected a broad-reaching scope of topics of concern that form the basis for our work.  These issues, like antibiotic resistance, for example, cut to the core of a hospital’s operations. Others, like climate change and genetically engineered foods, are matters of serious public health concern that we believe the healthcare community has a capacity and power to influence.

Healthy Food Initiatives

Health care institutions around the country have begun to adopt practices and policies to support a healthy food system — one that is environmentally sustainable, improves nutritional quality and supports human dignity and justice. The Healthy Food in Health Care program advances its work through six core initiatives focused on balanced menus, health beverages, sustainable and local food procurement.

Healthy Food Benchmarking & Awards

In 2011 HCWH launched the HFHC Awards Program to recognize excellence in sustainable food services at healthcare institutions across the country. The goals of the awards program are to recognize significant achievement as well as leadership; spur competition to achieve measurable, lasting results; encourage continuous improvement, with an emphasis on quantitative versus qualitative results; and benchmark progress in sustainable operations in health care food service.

Healthy Food News & Events

HCWH strives to be the national source for finding healthy healthcare news through their online newsletter (subscribe here), press releases, archived webinars, and upcoming events.

Healthy Food Tools & Resources

A clearinghouse of reports, factsheets, policy statements, and purchasing guides for use by the healthcare industry to make healthier and more sustainable food choices in their institutions.

Healthier Hospitals Initiative

The HFHC program also helps to coordinate the Healthier Food Challenge of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a national sustainability initiative for the healthcare sector. Several of our programs, such as the Balanced Menus, Local & Sustainable Purchasing and Healthy Beverages are embedded in HHI. The Challenge requires institutions to track local and sustainable procurement and/or meat reduction and improved sourcing.

Videos & Webinars

The Institution for Agriculture and Trade Policy has a series of webinars connecting sustainable farmers to emerging healthcare markets. This Video is the hospital focused presentation.

Healthier Hospitals hosts webinars and learning opportunities for healthcare institutions participating in the HHI challenge. Health Care Without Harm makes every effort to record and archive their webinars for future use.

Sustainable Farm-to-hospital ToolkitFarm to Health Care Procurement

HFHC has developed a comprehensive set of purchasing guides for Hospitals and Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs). For hospitals participating with HFHC Initiatives or the HHI Healthier Food Challenge, they’ve also developed a Distributor Welcome Kit for you to customize and use to enlist your vendors as partners in meeting your local and sustainable food purchasing goals.

The Institution for Agriculture and Trade Policy developed a Farm to Hospital Toolkit in 2013. Though focusing primarily on north central region states, the procurement guides can be of assistance to your initiatives. Our suggestions for resources you may find appropriate are below.

Farm to Health Care Promotion

Washington Grown Food Kit

Washington has a fantastic bounty of foods that are a great fit for hospital and healthcare meals and other institutional food service. Here you can find general information, recipes, sample menus, and nutrition facts. The Washington Grown Food Kit is an evolving and growing resource. We welcome contributions and will continuously add foods items and resources over time.

Washington Harvest Posters miniature imagesWashington Harvest Posters

WSDA and partners have created lots of posters and other promotional and educational materials for Farm to Institution projects that can be modified for use in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. These materials aim to help you promote your farm to institution efforts to patients, employees and the public. WSDA is pleased to present a set of 20 Washington Harvest posters highlighting terrific Washington-grown fruits and vegetables.

Farm to Health Care Projects

Take Action for Healthy Food

Join hundreds of hospitals around the country who have pledged their commitment to building a sustainable food service program. To commit your hospital to the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, download the pledge and follow submission instructions.

The Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge is a framework that outlines steps to be taken by the healthcare industry to improve the health of patients, communities and the environment. Taking the pledge to support procurement of local, nutritious, sustainably produced food demonstrates a commitment to “first, do no harm” as part of a whole hospital approach to preventive medicine that protects the health of patients, staff, and communities.

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