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Philadelphia Hospitals Embrace “Farm to Healthcare” Food Supply System

January 16, 2014 Category: People

The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the food distribution company Common Market came together yesterday to honor five Philadelphia hospitals that are bringing local food into their cafeterias and patient care systems.

The hospitals honored at the ceremony include the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Einstein Medical Center, Jeanes Hospital, Jefferson University Hospital, and Pennsylvania Hospital.

Common Market has made connecting local food suppliers with large institutions a central part of its mission. This is one of best ways to scale the local food system and bring healthier food to more people, according to Leah Pillsbury, director of communications at Common Market. 

Hospitals and schools represent some of Common Market’s biggest customers. In 2013, it sold to nine hospitals, 16 colleges and universities, and 43 public, private and charter schools.

Schools appear to be leading the charge, but Pillsbury stressed that hospitals are the next set of institutions to embrace local food.

“The farm to healthcare movement is really picking up a lot of traction,” Pillsbury said. She added that hospitals providing local food is especially important because it connects local food with health and preventative care. “It’s about messaging as well.”

In addition to sourcing local food, each of the hospitals have implemented programs to encourage healthy eating habits. Jefferson University Hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital and the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, for example, serve as community support agriculture (CSA) drop-off points.

Jefferson University Hospital and Jeanes Hospital both manage farmers’ markets or food stalls, and almost all of the hospitals have some kind of healthy food initiative to help patients, employees and visitors identify healthy choices.

For more on Common Market, check out our feature from November.

(Photo via Common Market)

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