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“Thumbs Up” For Minnesota Hospital Cuisine

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June 10, 2008

Minneapolis, MN – It's not every day that hospitals are congratulated for serving good food. Several Minnesota healthcare facilities are among 127 listed in a new, national report that identifies hospitals focusing on better ways to use food to promote health. Marie Kulick, of the coalition Health Care Without Harm, calls it a recipe for well-being.

"There are a significant number of hospitals nationwide that are working in unison to promote improved public health, through their food purchasing decisions, by specifically working to purchase more local and sustainably-produced food."

More hospitals are trying to get away from the "industrialized" foodservice systems that are typical in healthcare, according to Kulick, who says these systems don't do enough to promote wellness, may even contain risks, both to human health and the environment.

"The hospitals are seeking to promote more sustainable agricultural practices that don't rely upon the surging use of antibiotics or hormones, or synthetic pesticides. They're also supporting local production or localized food systems, where the food doesn't have to travel as far. So, it's fresher, tastier, and potentially has a longer shelf life."

Kulick says locally purchased foods may also be less expensive, and using them helps a hospital's local economy. Both patients and food producers are noticing the trend, she adds.

"The types of changes that these hospitals are making not only support healthcare's overall mission of promoting health, but since hospitals spend, collectively, more than $5 billion each year in food, they are also helping to signal the market that it's time for a change; that food production methods need to change and become more sustainable. "

Local hospitals on the list include St. Luke's in Duluth and Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. For more information, visit www.healthyfoodinhealthcare.org.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN