5.10. FORMING INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERSHIPS – FARM TO HOSPITAL
Health-care facilities, from hospitals to long-term care homes, have become substantial customers for organic food, as they focus on improving nutrition in their food services and encouraging wellness habits among patients and staff. Many health-care institutions are also partnering directly with farmers to bring healthy food to the people they serve and employ. A Cornell University survey of more than 100 hospitals in the northeastern United States found that 58 percent have adopted a “farm-to-hospital” program. Kaiser Permanente, a nonprofit managed health-care organization, sponsors farmers’ markets at 31 of its facilities on the West Coast.
In 2014, Rodale Institute established an 11.5-acre organic farm on the Anderson Campus of the St. Luke’s University Health Network, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The farm produces thousands of pounds of fresh produce each year for the institution’s 12 locations. Much of the food is served to patients and is used in the hospital cafeterias. St. Luke’s staff members also can enroll in a CSA that provides them with farm-fresh organic fruits and vegetables every week during the growing season. As of 2020, eight other local farmers have joined the initiative to supply the hospital and offer CSA shares.
In the video component of this lesson, the St. Luke’s team explains more about how the partnership with local organic farmers works.
SARE: Connecting Sustainable Farmers to Emerging Health-Care Markets
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association: Healthy Food in Hospitals
St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm