November 3, 2009

Donors provided important support in August and September to continue and expand the Balanced Menus campaign.  SFPSR staff members Lena Brook and Lucia Sayre have been hard at work on expanding the reach of this project.  “Lena and Lucia have provided significant leadership in the Bay Area to educating and assisting health care facilities to make changes in their food procurement practices, which ultimately improves the public’s health,” says SFPSR Board President Dr. Robert Gould.

SFPSR piloted the Balanced Menus campaign here in the Bay Area with four facilities for most of this year. The success of our early adopters – including UCSF and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital – allowed us to partner with our longstanding allies at Health Care Without Harm to launch this program nationally on September 23, 2009!

With the larger scope of the project also came a new commitment: we are asking hospitals to sign on to the Balanced Menus Challenge of reducing meat purchasing by 20% over 12 months. Around the country, 14 hospitals have already accepted this Challenge. As Linda Hansen, Director of Nutrition Services at St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County says, “It was amazingly simple to make an impact on our carbon footprint by starting with small changes in our cafeteria and working our way up to the more complex patient menu. By implementing Balanced Menus, we are able to remain cost neutral, or even achieve savings for the hospital, not to mention the savings to our healthcare system that result from providing patients, staff and visitors healthier foods.” Encouraging a reduced and sustainable meat diet is part of a primary prevention agenda to reduce the nation’s chronic diet-related illnesses, but also contributes substantially to climate mitigation, clean air and water, and protection of the effectiveness of antibiotics. SF PSR is excited to be a part of the Balanced Menus movement’s growth in the coming months.

On October 26th from 11-12:30pm, SF PSR hosted a webinar training on the Balanced Menus Challenge for California hospitals. The webinar was attended by over thirty individuals, including representatives from ten local hospitals.  Participants learned about why this program is an important as part of a hospital’s climate mitigation strategy; how food service staff has implemented Balanced Menus in their Northern California hospitals; how to start a Balanced Menus program in their hospital; and an update from Johns Hopkins’ Center for a Livable Future’s ongoing evaluation of this project.

The Balanced Menus project will also be a part of a panel at the upcoming 2009 S3: Safe, Secure, and Sustainable Symposium on Food Systems and Public Health in San Diego on November 6th. For more information about this conference go to http://www.californiafood.org/.

We are well on the way to enrolling our goal of six more hospitals this year so they can start serving healthier, more sustainably produced meat and vegetables. Your continued support ensures funding for outreach and education to make this goal a reality.

For more information contact Lena Brook: lena@sfbaypsr.org.