Maryland Hospital Food Service Director Wins National Award for Sustainable Food Service Achievements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                       

Eileen Secrest
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 540-376-4495

1st Place Exemplary Food Service Professional Award Presented to Holly S. Emmons,
Food and Nutrition Services Manager, Union Hospital of Cecil County, Elkton, MD


May 16, 2013 (Elkton, MD) - The Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) Program is pleased to announce that it has awarded first place in the national Exemplary Food Service Professional Award to Holly S. Emmons, manager of Food and Nutrition Services at Union Hospital of Cecil County in Elkton, Maryland.  The award acknowledges significant achievement and leadership, inspires competition to achieve measurable and lasting results, and encourages continuous improvement in sustainable health care food service operations. Emmons was selected for making the critical link between our industrialized food system and public health through a competitive process with other hospital food service professionals engaged in sustainable health care.

"For the past four years, Union Hospital has embraced healthier foods and has worked towards achieving significant results through Health Care Without Harm's healthy food initiatives," stated Emmons. "This award represents a culmination of these efforts, but most importantly, defines a legacy for others to follow toward a more sustainable future."

Holly Emmons engaged in a variety of food service related efforts, including supporting the facility in signing the HFHC Pledge and subsequently developing a department mission statement to include sustainability. She advocated for local, sustainable chicken with distributors, is now purchasing over 44 percent of the hospital's fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry and dairy from local sustainable farmers (primarily through direct purchases from the farms) for both patient and cafeteria meals, led efforts to preserve/freeze foods through the non-harvest season, launched the composting program, expanded the recycling program, and started a program to donate foods to local homeless feeding groups. Her broader facility efforts include working with the hospital employee wellness program to adjust cafeteria pricing to incentivize healthy eating. Emmons also uses the same local sustainable foods in the meals they prepare and send to the local senior center and for the Meals on Wheels program of Cecil County.

In professional and community networks, Emmons has presented at several local and national conferences and on national webinars about why and how she purchases sustainable foods at Union Hospital. She also serves as the co-convener for the Chesapeake Food Leadership Council, and is a member of the Cecil County Community Transformation Grant Committee's Healthy Lifestyles Taskforce. Emmons and Union Hospital of Cecil County advocated for two years for the ban on arsenic in chicken feed in Maryland, now the first state in the country to pass this ban.  She represented the hospital by providing written and verbal testimony as well as contacting legislators by phone to request their support. The hospital has also won 6 local and state awards as a result of Emmons' work including the Governor's first Smart, Green and Growing Buy Local Agricultural Challenge Award in 2011, the 2011 Maryland Outstanding Rural Health Achievement Award and the first Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award in 2010.      

"The health care sector has an opportunity through purchasing, community education and policy advocacy to make a huge impact on the health and sustainability of our current food systems," stated Emma Sirois, Co-Coordinator of the HCWH Healthy Food in Health Care Program.  "Union Hospital of Cecil County works to take full advantage of this opportunity, connecting healthy food environments and systems with their disease prevention and wellness mission." 

Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of more than 520 organizations in 53 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on HCWH, see HCWH's Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) Program works with hospitals across the country to help improve the sustainability of their food services. To learn more about HCWH's Healthy Food in Health Care Program visit