Want to change the food system? Start with hospitals.

The first and probably most important place to defend good food?

Hospitals! Get vending machines out of hospitals, and have them replaced with wholesome food. Get junk food out of hospital cafeterias, and have wholesome options available. At many hospitals, there are no wholesome options for meals at all!

Hospitals should not merely cater to consumer preference: they should help shape and educate this preference. Hospitals should be an example to the world of what wholesome food could be. Hospitals should be the vanguard for a better food environment. What else could the function of hospitals be, than to promote the community’s public health.

Instead, hospitals frequently focus much of their cost-cutting the food that they serve. The result is expected: low-quality food. Even some of the nation’s top hospitals are subcontracting their food services for the lowest possible prices. This includes as recently as late last 2015, such hospital systems as Mayo and Vanderbilt.

This needs to stop. Hospitals should be serving high-quality food, and actively promoting public health through food education for both patients and visitors. With the majority of healthcare spending on lifestyle-related illness–and every public health expert that works at a hospital knows this–hospitals have a public duty to do this. When they shirk this commitment, they turn their backs on their communities.

In the coming year, I will host a project focused on this–and work to help change the public discussion about hospital food.

In the meantime, I will occasionally be posting about alternatives to the current system. Recently, I found this:

Think about it. Do you want to change the public discussion about food and health? The most logical starting place for this is the place where we seem to be both treating–and causing–disease. The latter must stop.

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2 thoughts on “Want to change the food system? Start with hospitals.

  1. I remember when I wrote a compelling, professional letter to a Western North Carolina hospital about encouraging people to eat healthier just by providing healthier food choices to patients and employees… I got a long letter back stating they wouldn’t change because it’s not want people “want.” When I read their response, I quickly realized we need more education in our schools, colleges, etc… to teach some common sense to our population. And of course, we need role model hospitals who are participating in the healthy food movement to create cognitive change.

  2. It’s not just about eating “healthy” foods. We need to overhall the whole system and start by how we define the word health or healthy. I want to eat foods that do not contain pesticides; thus organic. I do not want to eat GMO containing foods that make me feel sick and make my body even sicker. Just because a “healthy” food looks pretty doesn’t mean that it is safe to consume.

    We need to educate every time we speak with anyone regardless of whether the person is a stranger at a bus stop or a family member. The hospital system is part of the problem. I believe we will find the solutions through community organizing. We need to be the changers in policy making and run for office.

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