Transforming Hospital Food Into Something More Sustainable
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is world renowned for its cutting-edge research and medical care. It is also a leader in sustainability, modeling healthy, sustainable food choices for patients, staff and visitors.
Three ways that UCSF is transforming the sustainability of the food we serve include:
1. Reducing conventional meat consumption in order to purchase more sustainable meat;
“There is overwhelming scientific consensus that overuse of antibiotics in livestock is a health hazard to people. It’s time for hospitals, universities and other consumers to stop buying meat raised with nontherapeutic antibiotics. With an Academic Senate resolution to phase out meat raised with nontherapeutic antibiotics, the medical center recently announced that it will now serve only antibiotic-free chicken breasts on its patient and retail menus. UCSF now also offers a $4.50 grass-fed, antibiotic-free hamburger. In order to offer more sustainable meats, UCSF trimmed conventional meat purchases with offerings such as “Meatless Mondays” and other strategies for reducing waste. A new program recently put in place, offering hotel-style room service to patients, provides patients more control over food choices.
As reported in Civil Eats, hospitals attempting to purchase sustainable food face serious supply chain challenges. In the case of meat produced with nontherapeutic antibiotics, the market to date has been small in the U.S and the products costly. Even large institutions such as UCSF, not to mention individual food vendors, have problems getting the actual products they want in the quantity they need. At an unprecedented gathering last year, 80 participants gathered at the UCSF Sustainable Meat Summit, including sixth generation cattlemen, chicken farmers, and physicians, to explore how to benefit from small and medium livestock producers who offer alternatives to intensive farming practices that boost production through antibiotic use. At the Summit, each sector involved in meat production was able to meet and converse with the others in the business. UCSF reached out to hospitals statewide through Health Care Without Harm’s network, leveraging the combined purchasing power of multiple health facilities. With perseverance and collaboration, US Foods now offers Estancia products.
Dan Henroid, UCSF Director of Nutrition and Food Services attributes his success to his team and recommends one of the first steps is to get your local team in order. According to Henroid, you need your local team members to be committed to your sustainability effort. “It takes a whole lot of constant effort and commitment to go through all of the different options and stay on top of the market. If I was the only one in my department committed to this, we still wouldn’t be making progress,” he stressed.
MISTAKES & LESSONS LEARNED