University Medical Center at Princeton Signs Healthy Food Pledge
Nov 11, 2010
Places New Emphasis on Local, Nutritious and Sustainable Food
In an effort to raise awareness about healthy food choices and
demonstrate its commitment to putting more fresh, local food in the
cafeteria and on patient trays, University Medical Center at Princeton
(UMCP) has adopted the Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, a declaration
of support for the use of local, nutritious and sustainable food.
By signing the pledge, UMCP joins a growing list of hospitals around
the nation -- some 250 at present, including three others in New
Jersey -- that have made a commitment to serving food that is both
healthier for people and the environment.
“I think a hospital should set an example,” said UMCP President Mark
Jones. “The food we serve to our patients, our staff and the community
should promote good health, and that includes a healthy environment.”
The eight-point Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, developed by the
non-profit organization Health Care Without Harm, includes a promise to
work with local farmers, community-based organizations and food
suppliers to increase the availability of locally-sourced food. The
hospital also pledges to encourage its food vendors to supply food
produced without synthetic pesticides and hormones or antibiotics given
to animals in the absence of diagnosed disease. Additional elements of
the pledge include commitments to identify and adopt sustainable food
procurement practices; minimize food waste; and develop programs that
support sustainable and humane agriculture systems.
Even before signing the pledge, UMCP had begun moving to embrace
some of its key principles. In April 2010, UMCP contracted with the
health care food service company Morrison Management Service to run its
nutrition and dining operation in an effort to improve food quality.
Since then, the hospital has begun featuring healthier dishes with
Recent cafeteria offerings included such items as Tofu and Broccoli
Stir Fry, Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Salmon, and Chicken
Kabobs with Quinoa. Cards placed by every entree provide information
such as fat, sodium and calorie count.
“Previous menus included many heavy, highly processed foods. Now
we’re giving staff and visitors a nice balanced menu, and we’re doing
the same for the patients upstairs,” said UMCP Food Service Director
The hospital also began hosting farmers markets and purchasing some
of its food from New Jersey farms, a trend Phillips said will increase.
The action by UMCP comes at a time of intensifying focus on the
health threat posed by obesity and the food choices that encourage it.
Approximately two-thirds of adults and one in three children are
overweight in the United States, putting them at increased risk for
diabetes, cardiovascular problems, certain forms of cancer and other
chronic diseases. The federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines
for Americans, scheduled for release in December, are expected to
identify obesity as America’s number one health threat.