November 17, 2011

Food Med, a national conference focused on sustainable foods and the health care sector, was held October 18-19 in Seattle. The meeting is designed to help leaders in the health care sector incorporate sustainable and nutritious food purchasing at their facilities, as well as to offer cost effective strategies that meet the unique needs of the healthcare industry and facilitate the development of healthy communities.

Food Med is an opportunity to bring together a wide variety of people working in food services related to the health care community, including sustainable agriculture, food distribution, institutional procurement, and public health.

Lucia Sayre, Co-Director of SF Bay Area PSR, noted,  “This year’s Food Med was striking in that it showed how the work has really evolved to a strategic place. The first few conferences were focused on helping people get started with this kind of work, such as sourcing RBGH-free milk. This year’s conference was focused on larger issues, such as regional sourcing models, aggregating volume in purchasing, and extending community benefits within hospitals to community food programs. This strategic focus was heartening for me, having been involved since the beginning.”

Ms. Sayre pointed to the fact that health care food service directors, some of whom have been working with Food Med for almost seven years, are now champions for the cause . “They are practiced and knowledgeable about how to change their institutions, and most have been quite successful.” Ms. Sayre noted that this year’s conference had a larger presence from the clinical community; in the past, it had been attended primarily by facility directors in food service departments, but this year had many doctors and nurses, including PSR doctors from around the country. She said, “With the work of SF Bay Area, Oregon and Washington PSR chapters in the Healthy Food in Health Care program of HCWH, this region’s PSR chapters are emerging as a strong force for change in this work.”

In 2005, PSR collaborated with Kaiser and Health Care Without Harm (HCHW) to host the first FoodMed conference in Oakland. Since then, SF Bay Area PSR has played a leading role in the organization and coordination of HCHW’s national Healthy Food in Health Care program, and has coordinated all of this program’s California work. Ms. Sayre is currently the Co-Coordinator of the national Healthy Food in Health Care program for the HCWH campaign. To date, over 380 hospitals around the country have signed on to the Healthy Food in Health Care pledge, and the program continues to gain momentum as the leader in sustainable food work in the health care sector. Click here to read about Kaiser’s success in promoting sustainable food and agriculture.

At this year’s Food Med, Ms. Sayre moderated the session “How Physicians can Ease the Burden of Chronic Reversible Disease in a Health Care Setting;” and she co-moderated the session “Hospital Leadership Teams in Action” with Lena Brook, SF Bay Area PSR Program Associate. Presentations are available to view on the Food Med website.

SF Bay Area PSR also helped to organize a pre-conference training for nurses and nursing students through the Food Matters program, a clinical advocacy and training program that encourages hospitals and healthcare professionals to become leaders and advocates for a food system that promotes public and environmental health. Ms. Sayre was one of the presenters. Food Matters is also a joint program of SF Bay Area PSR and Health Care Without Harm.

Click here to read a PR Newswire article on the Food Med conference.