Supporting New York’s Hospitals to Adopt Healthier Food Practices
Healthy Food, Healthy Lives
September 27, 2022
Outside New York State
New York State hospitals serve millions of meals annually to New Yorkers, from patients and families to staff and community members, through their food service operations.
Locally grown and produced foods are often healthier because they are fresher and contain more nutrients; they can also support the local economy, the environment, and a safer food supply. Hospitals can have a better impact on the food system and health of their patients and communities by using food purchasing to improve meal quality, increase equitable access for farmers and food producers of color, and encourage farm and food production practices to protect the environment. In 2022, NYHealth awarded Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) a grant to support and train New York State hospitals to purchase nutritious, locally grown food and implement healthy food practices as part of their core business operations.
Under this grant, HCWH will establish the New York State Hospital Innovation Hub, which will engage hospitals, food systems advocates, and the State’s agriculture sector to increase access to healthy, local food; build understanding among hospital leaders of the role that local food systems play in improving health; and increase hospital engagement in food systems planning efforts. HCWH will recruit a cohort of approximately six hospital systems to participate in this project, prioritizing hospitals that serve economically disadvantaged communities in rural and urban areas. It will provide hospitals with training and technical assistance and facilitate the following activities: establishing a baseline for current purchasing; creating action plans and targets for local food purchasing; providing tools to support sustained purchasing commitments; implementing effective tracking and evaluation practices; identifying opportunities for expansion of local food sources; and building connections with food system partners. An external evaluator will work with participating hospitals to gather key metrics on participation, healthy food access for communities, and spending on local foods. Finally, HCWH will develop resources to share best practices with hospitals across the network and create opportunities for participating hospitals to connect with and learn from each other.