As a sustainability professional, you can connect your community benefit department with healthy food program implementers in your food service department to help align your organization’s sustainability efforts with community benefit investment opportunities.
Connecting the dots
Collaboration among sustainability staff and community benefit staff can additionally align and amplify “climate co-benefit” initiatives that directly improve public health.
By working together, these departments can share expertise and resources to more effectively — and simultaneously — address environmental and health goals.
For example, hospital procurement staff who have expertise in developing local supply chains and integrating locally and sustainably grown food into hospital meal systems could help other community-based and hospital-supported food access programs to incorporate these types of products into their programs. By doing so they achieve the “triple win” of access, sustainability and local economic and workforce development.
To help track and gain recognition for successes in healthy food access consider applying for the Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards. The healthy food section of the application includes opportunities to highlight healthy food access initiatives and in particular, those that are supported through community benefit programing, including: Hosting a local farmers market; Community-supported agriculture (CSA) food box program for community residents; Supported on-site hospital farm or garden that provides food to community programs; Supported off-site community garden or farms.
Eden Medical Center looked to existing strengths within the community to identifying thier partner Dig Deep Farms. This social enterprise is creating workforce development opportunities for local residents, particularly those coming out of the criminal justice system. The farm provides access to healthy food to people in the surrounding communities.
Delivering community benefit
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