WW Health Takes Part in Collaborative “Farm-to-Hospital” Project

Baldwin, WI – Western Wisconsin Health (WW Health) recently participated in a local “Farm-to-Hospital” project to help further develop our sustainable practices.

An alarming fact: The four leading causes of death in the United States are directly link to food: stroke, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Despite this fact, many hospitals are not doing all they can to offer healthy foods to patients and staff. WW Health and nine other Wisconsin hospitals recently participated in a collaborative Farm to Hospital Community of Practice to work on changing that.

Representatives from the ten hospitals came together throughout the past year to network and learn how to create healthier food and beverage environments for their patients and staff. They used an environmental scan tool from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify opportunities, create an action plan, and measure their progress.

“In just one year, we’ve seen an increase in the number of Wisconsin hospitals that are purchasing local fruits and vegetables, maintaining on-site gardens, hosting a farmer’s market, serving as CSA drop-off sites, and promoting these activities to staff, patients, and the community,” said Michelle Moreau, community outreach specialist for the Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Control Program.

“Participation in this project was valuable in determining what we wanted to offer in The Eatery when we moved into our new facility in July of 2016. Utilizing the environmental scan tool from the CDC helped us establish our baseline nutritional goals and combined those with the recommendations from our Registered Dietitians, Natasha Ward and Cheri Rott. Our goal was that 75% of our menu would meet those nutritional goals.  Currently, 78% of our menu meets the established guidelines and we also include nutritional information on all our menu items and list the top 8 allergens for each menu item to assist our guests in making the selection that best meets their needs,” said Tara Petter, Culinary Services Manager. 

At WW Health, we have a strong commitment to sustainability. We have practices in place that support our mission to build a healthier tomorrow, such as purchasing supplies as close to our site as possible, recycling food scraps to local farms, providing healthy food options and eliminating unhealthy ones, and educating  staff and the community on sustainable lifestyle practices. “We want people to adopt healthy lifestyles,” explained Alison Page, CEO. “This is a place where the healthy options are the easy options. Eating well and living well is easier if it is also the most convenient thing to do.”

When you come to visit us at The Eatery, you see a menu designed with you and your health in mind. We believe that “fast” food can also be fresh, affordable and healthy. Our approach is simple—we get back to the basics by cooking from scratch and utilizing fresh, whole, flavorful foods that are naturally packed with vitamins and nutrients. We incorporate locally sourced ingredients and support fair trade and sustainable practices whenever possible.

With the goals of the farm-to-hospital project in mind, WW Health also recently opened an organic Community Garden on Thursday, May 25, 2017. Gardeners are provided with access to water, quality soil and compost, and 5’ by 10’ raised garden beds. There is a mixture of single and double high beds for easy accessibility to meet the needs of all types of gardeners. The garden currently consists of raised garden beds, with plans to open a large garden plot area in the spring of 2018. The Eatery plans to use plots in the future to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs for their use and to donate to local food shelves. The community garden can also be used as a way for us to teach the community sustainable gardening practices.

The Farm-to-Hospital project was organized by the Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Control Program and is part of a larger effort to increase access to healthy foods and beverages as a way to prevent cancer.

The project was supported by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protections. Participants plan to continue sharing resources and supporting each other, even though the yearlong project officially wrapped up this spring. Plans are in development for a future community of practice to continue supporting hospitals to make healthy changes to their food and beverage environments.

To learn more about The Eatery or Community Garden at WW Health, please visit our website at wwhealth.org.