With high rates of failing health and processed, fast-food consumption, there are some people making this obvious connection and doing something about it. This organization is guiding hospitals in the direction of fresh, locally grown, and seasonal food for patients. They’re even showing patients how to grow and cook fresh, healthy food in an attempt to liberate them out of their revolving door of poor diet choices and hospital visits. The Health Care Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Health Care program is revolutionizing lives by helping hospitals offer patients healthy foods and empowering them with knowledge.
Program director , Stacia Clinton says, “There is an increasing trend in hospital farms. There’s a greater demand now for people to know where their food is coming from, and hospitals are looking for ways to connect people to their food more directly.”
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is one such hospital that now boasts the largest rooftop farm in Boston and the first hospital-based rooftop farm in Massachusetts.
In total the farm takes up 7,000 square feet of roof space which provides 15,000 pounds of fresh and healthy food every season. Among the crops grown are kale, bok choy, arugula, tomatoes, carrots, eggplants, cucumbers, and peppers. The farm at Boston Medical Center also has two beehives to provide fresh honey for the hospital’s patients.
While patients are staying at the hospital they are encouraged to visit the demonstration kitchen where they can learn how to use fresh ingredients. They teach about cooking seasonally and healthy. The demo kitchen and rooftop farm give patients hands-on experience and helps them learn to grow and cook food.
Patients can witness how to transform their lifestyle, potentially from microwaves and fast food to real, whole food grown and prepared from scratch. The farm also benefits BMC’s preventative food pantry which provides low-income patients access to fresh food.
BMC senior director David Maffeo says, “The goal with our rooftop farm is to provide fresh, local produce to as many of our patients, employees, and community members as possible. This initiative supports our mission to address social determinants of health by improving access to healthy fruits and vegetables, and it is a perfect example of BMC’s dedication to sustainability and green efforts.”
Since doctors and nurses aren’t necessarily expert farmers, BMC teamed up with Lindsay Allen and John Stoddard from Higher Ground Farm who specialize in designing and installing organic rooftop farms. BMC also works with a farm manager to keep an eye on the crops.
What do you think? Is this something you would like to see come to a hospital near you?