Health care institutions throughout the country recognize the urgent need to reduce rates of obesity and chronic illness as well as their associated health care costs.
Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) contribute to the increased prevalence of obesity and associated chronic diseases that go along with weight gain. The production, consumption, and waste associated with sugar-sweetened and bottled beverages have numerous negative environmental consequences.
A better option for hydration and quenching thirst is water and in the United States, tap water has been proven to be just as safe, or safer, than the bottled version.
By supporting and promoting publicly-owned water infrastructure and reducing access to unhealthy beverages, the health care community can assist in creating a food environment that supports health for both the community it serves and the environment in general.
For Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif., the phase-out of single-use bottled water for on-site catering events, in patient-use areas and nursing units, represents a savings of $66,000 annually.
Practice Greenhealth offers recommended strategies to increase access to tap water and recommends a minimum of three each year:
- Sell or provide reusable beverage containers at affordable prices in the cafeteria and gift shop and give them away at special events.
- Install filtered-water stations, “spa water,” or water bottle filling stations throughout the facility or in cafeterias.
- Eliminate bottled water from patient menus and cafeteria.
- Provide free “spa water” or pitchers at functions and meetings instead of bottled water.
- Change the relative price of healthy compared to unhealthy beverages to make healthy choices more affordable and desirable.
Be sure to incorporate a healthy beverage policy into your broader sustainable food service policy, include purchasing specifications that meet your healthy beverage criteria. Establish goals with timelines for the various stages of implementing your policy and plan.
Developing a sustainable food service
- Vision statements, assessments, policies and plans
- Plant-Forward Future
- Marketing and education
- Waste, recycling and resource management
- Less food to landfill
- Choosing environmentally preferable food service ware
- Resource management