Healthy and Sustainable Food


Nutrition-related chronic diseases are placing new demands on an already overburdened health care system and taking their toll on human productivity and quality of life. Our current large scale, industrial food system favours animal products and highly-refined, preservative-laden, calorie-dense foods, rather than fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other high fibre foods important for health. It is a system misaligned with dietary guidelines. Moreover, the way our food is produced and distributed impacts our health and the environment in which we live, by increasing air and water pollution, risking worker health and safety, and contributing to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Hospitals and health systems have opportunities to help prevent these food-related health concerns by modelling proper nutrition in their institutions and by influencing how food is produced and distributed. Through its food purchasing decisions, the Canadian health care industry can promote health by providing more fresh, good tasting, nutritious food choices for patients, staff, and the community. And by supporting food production that is local, humane, and protective of the environment and health, health care providers can help create food systems that promote the well being of the whole community.

Case Studies

▼ St Joseph's Group Purchasing Organization makes local food an integral part of buying strategy

St. Joseph’s Health System-Group Purchasing Organisation (SJHS-GPO) was founded in 1992 by five hospitals from the Sisters of St. Joseph’s network in Hamilton, Ontario. At the time, the five hospitals were working together to determine how they could maximize the value of their amalgamated food purchases. Over the years, SJHS-GPO became a membership-based, national not-for-profit organisation focused on capital purchases, food and nutrition. The Capital Group at SJHS-GPO now has over 170 members across Canada, while the Food and Nutrition group has remained regional, with all of its 28 member facilities in Southern Ontario.

A GPO’s primary purpose is to maximize the value of a facility’s purchases by amalgamating their purchase volumes with other facilities. Using economies of scale is one way that health care facilities can stretch their budgets. For a sector with tight food budgets, every penny counts.

Click to view the full case study

▼ Taking a bite out of organic waste

Reducing a health care facility’s ecological footprint can happen in many ways; improved energy management practices, decreased water consumption, elimination of toxic-containing products used in diagnostic, treatment and cleaning protocols, and how organic waste is managed. 

Diverting and treating organic waste within health care facilities varies widely across Canada due to a number of reasons including availability of funds to adequately develop and administer an organics programme, the organisation’s level of commitment to environmental sustainability, diversion options available from the local city/municipality, and the capabilities of local waste haulers and receiving locations to properly handle source-separated materials.

Click here to read the full case study

▼ Conducting a Food Origin Audits: a step by step guide

The Conducting a Food Origin Audits: a step by step guide, is a document to support conducting a food origin audit. The audit process is valuable as it helps organizations or institutions determine the origin of the food they purchase. Once completed, the audit provides the purchaser a baseline from which to track its progress towards purchasing more local food. The basic process of a food origin audit is that the food manufacturer responsible for bringing an audited food to market is contacted and asked to provide details on the origin of the ingredient(s) in that food. Below is a basic summary of the steps involved in a food origin audit. See the later sections of this document for expanded details and examples for each of the five steps.

Click here to read the full document

▼ Healthy Food in Health Care: A Pledge for fresh, local sustainable food

Nutrition-related chronic diseases are placing new demands on an already overburdened health care system and taking their toll on human productivity and quality of life. Our current large scale, industrial food system favours animal products and highly-refined, preservative-laden, calorie-dense foods, rather than fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other high fibre foods important for health. It is a system misaligned with dietary guidelines. Moreover, the way our food is produced and distributed impacts our health and the environment in which we live.

Click here to read the full case study

Reports

▼ Health Food

Our food system is inextricably linked to both environmental and human health – the way we produce and distribute food has a profound impact on our health as individuals and as communities. Despite decades of improving agricultural production practices, there is much concern regarding practices that impose serious environmental and health risks such as heightened antibiotic resistance, hormone, pesticide and persistent toxicant exposure, polluted air and waterways, and unsafe working conditions. These are of serious concern to the health care community which is uniquely placed to lead changes in practices and policies. By making a commitment to purchase local and sustainable food, health care facilities will be encouraging food offerings that are consistent with a preventative health agenda. Doing so not only provides patients and staff with the healthiest food, but supports a food production system that fosters and enhances public health more broadly.

Click here to view the full case study.

 

▼ Local Food Provision in Ontario's Hospitals and Long Term Care Facilities

This report is the third deliverable for Food for Health Project 200218 (“Exploring the Feasibility and Benefits of Incorporating Local Foods into Ontario’s Healthcare System”), a research study conducted in 2010-2012 with the support of the University of Guelph/Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Partnership Fund, My Sustainable Canada, the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care, St. Mary’s Hospital (Kitchener), St. Joseph’s Health Centre (Guelph), and Aramark.

The five-member research team responsible for this project is:
• Dr. Paulette Padanyi (University of Guelph)
• Dr. Vinay Kanetkar (University of Guelph)
• Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer (Wilfrid Laurier University).
• Brendan Wylie-Toal (Research Manager, My Sustainable Canada)
• Linda Varangu (Partnership Director, The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care)

Click here to read the full paper

▼ Ross Memorial Hospital Case Study

Ross Memorial Hospital decreases ecological footprint with wholesome, nutritious local food. Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH) is a 175-bed community hospital located in Lindsay, Ontario, serving more than 80,000 local residents and seasonal visitors. RMH has already received attention for its notable energy reduction campaigns but now they have turned their attention to greening the hospital food services. (See: www.greenhealthcare.ca/ross.pdf)

Click here to read the full case study
, .

Partners

▼ Nourish Health

Nourish Health aims to use the power of food to build health for people and the planet. They are a national community of practice empowering healthcare leadership in climate action and health equity. Nourish works across community, institutional, and policy scales to steward innovation to transition to a more preventative, equitable, sustainable health system.