Hospitals cooking up healthier food options

Hospitals are strengthening their commitment to offering healthy food choices, with more than 400 hospitals joining the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), USA Today reported.

The hospitals pledge to use nutrition labeling and healthy food marketing, eliminate deep fat fryers and offer more fruits and vegetables, among other improvements.

The new participating hospitals use Morrison Healthcare Food Services, which projects 60 percent of its hospital clients will meet the health standards by 2017, the PHA announced yesterday.

Meanwhile, Truman Medical Centers in Missouri is taking an innovative approach to providing nutritious food by opening its own grocery store, the two-hospital health system announced yesterday.

Since the hospital is located in what some dub a "food desert," the new store will give residents access to healthier food options, according to the Associated Press.

The hospital also hopes the grocery store will lower the community's rates of diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and obesity.

"A secondary benefit to the community will be the micro-economy that it generates by interfacing with local businesses and the creation of local jobs," TMC President and CEO John W. Bluford said in a statement.

But a healthier hospital and healthcare community requires more than simply implementing new standards and more nutritious options.

To keep the momentum going, Medical University of (Charleston) South Carolina conducts quarterly audits of the food services "to make sure that we sustain this so that we didn't just do this one time and that it would fall off," Susan L. Johnson of the employee wellness program told FierceHealthcare.

MUSC also trains food service workers to ensure the food is prepared and served in a healthy way, she noted.

For more:
- read the PHA announcement
- here's the USA Today article
- read the Truman statement (.pdf)
- read the AP article