Hospitals are seen by the community as a place for healing, and as such, can be a key force in community-wide collaborations that address social and environmental determinants of health such as food insecurity.
Through investments in programming and purchasing, hospitals are creating healthy food access for patients, staff, and visitors and simultaneously building healthy, sustainable, and equitable food systems for their communities using tactics such as:
- Farmers markets and farm stands on hospital campuses to provide easy access to healthy locally grown foods
- On-site food gardens and farms to provide produce for food service and for donation to food insecure communities
- Community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs to provide staff with a regular source of food from a local farm
- Community benefit programs within nonprofit hospitals to work with community partners for food needs assessments plans to address needs, and to support interventions that will:
- Improve access to healthy, affordable food,
- Support economic and workforce development in low-income or disadvantaged communities, and
- Strengthen local and sustainable food systems.
- Targeted program-related investments that support community food enterprises.
Hospitals can tackle food insecurity, obesity, and chronic disease while promoting healthy, local, and sustainable food systems. The “Delivering community benefit: Healthy food playbook” inspires and supports health professionals with resources to address diet-related community health needs.
Practice Greenhealth offers tools, case studies, and resources to help hospitals collaborate with community partners to promote healthy food access and healthy, local and sustainable food systems. Our goal is to provide step-by-step resources that will make it simpler for any hospital with a food access goal to design, implement, and measure the success of these strategies.
Delivering community benefit
- How to identify your community benefit lead
- Connecting dots between healthy food programming and community benefit