Hospitals and hospital systems represent a sizable potential market for sustainable farmers, and interest in increasing purchases of local, sustainably produced food among hospitals and hospital systems is growing. However, limited hospital resources and the complexity of food purchase contracts and agreements at many hospitals have prevented farmers from accessing this market in any significant way to date. To assess the current and potential health care food markets for North Central region sustainable farmers, IATP compiled and analyzed purchasing data from three participating health system collaborators for all food and beverage purchases, including those that meet sustainability criteria outlined in the Green Guide for Health Care. Using surveys and phone interviews of key hospital personnel and sustainable farmers; and input gathered from an advisory committee, IATP gathered data to provide insights into opportunities for and roadblocks to hospital sourcing of more local, sustainably produced food. Project findings are being published in two region-specific reports—one developed for hospitals and one for farmers/producers. In addition, IATP will publish a Sustainable Farm-to-Hospital Toolkit containing resources designed to help North Central region hospitals maximize purchase of produce, meat and other products from sustainable farmers and producers, especially those in nearby communities, and to help sustainable farmers and producers to sell their products to hospitals.
Anna Claussen, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
Jennifer Conde, Hudson Hospital
Marie Kulick, MSEL, Allina Health and Earth Wise Communications
Jody Lenz, Threshing Table Farm
Jean Weiler, Hudson Hospital & Clinic
This 2-year, federally-funded project has been made possible through a research and education grant from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) program.