In April 2013, St John’s Medical Center became the first hospital in Wyoming to sign Health Care without Harm’s “Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge”. In doing so, SJMC committed to improving the health of its patients, its community, and the environment. While SJMC has traditionally been engaged in treating acute illnesses, over the last three years wellness and disease prevention have become more of a focus. Given that many preventable diseases are diet related, SJMC recognizes its responsibility to set a good example by providing healthy food to patients, staff and community members.
So what is “healthy food”? Health Care without Harm states:
“Healthy food cannot be defined by nutritional quality alone. It is the end result of a food system that conserves and renews natural resources, advances social justice and animal welfare, builds community wealth and fulfills the food and nutritional needs of all eaters now and into the future.”
Following this direction, SJMC has implemented programs to improve the health of food/meal options by increasing servings of fruits and vegetables (while trying to source these locally), offering more organic items and minimally processed foods, and reducing the amount of unhealthy trans-fats and sugar-sweetened foods served. Programs include:
- Offering free sparkling water to help people reduce soda consumption
- Buying more meats that are raised without added hormones and non–therapeutic antibiotics.
- Buying more local produce (several CSA shares) and promoting more sustainable food purchasing.
- Encouraging recycling and working toward composting
SJMC intends to build upon these programs to enhance wellness and sustainability efforts and become a role model for other hospitals in the region.