Food in public institutions, particularly in hospitals, should be seen as a pleasant experience, but there are still many challenges in providing sustainable, healthy and tasty food in hospitals. There are equally as many opportunities, however, for the healthcare sector to improve food served in its facilities and build a sustainable food system at national, regional, and local levels.
In October 2018, over 30 experts from hospitals, academia, and municipalities gathered at by Radboud university medical center (Radboudumc) to discuss these opportunities and share their experiences on a variety of related topics including public procurement and food waste management, as well as menu design, vending machines, protected mealtimes, and staff training and welfare.
Organised by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe, the 2018 Sustainable and Healthy Food in Healthcare workshop was held as part of CleanMed Europe – Europe’s leading conference on sustainable healthcare. Co-hosted by Radboudumc, the workshop opened with presentation of HCWH Europe’s work on sustainable food and plant-based food guidelines for healthcare and Radboudumc’s innovative FoodforCare concept – conceived of by patients, catering staff, and healthcare professionals.
Speakers from hospitals and procurement authorities across Europe showcased their best practices highlighting the importance of sustainable food procurement in healthcare. Speakers and participants also discussed the specific challenges they face when tackling food waste and the next steps for advancing sustainable food policies in the European healthcare sector.
HCWH Europe will continue to highlight the challenges, opportunities, and best practice from European healthcare institutions in developing sustainable and healthy food strategies. This is important in raising awareness and mobilising and inspiring others to begin on their path towards sustainable and healthy food. Looking ahead, it is vital that we see healthy food as synonymous with sustainable food, not only for the wellbeing of patients and staff, but also for the wider community and the planet.