Food-service contractor Morrison has made a commitment to promote healthier food at hundreds of the hospitals where the company serves food to patients, visitors and employees.
The Partnership for a Healthier America, which enrolled 155 hospitals and health systems in its hospital healthy food program last fall, said that Morrison intends to reach similar benchmarks with at least 60% of its 550 client hospitals and health systems by 2016.
“We can make much more expansive progress in our goal by working with the food service companies,” said Larry Soler, PHA’s president and CEO.
The Washington-based not-for-profit organization works with private sector companies on initiatives to address childhood obesity. It was formed in 2010 by Kaiser Permanente, the Nemours children’s health system and three other foundations.
The PHA’s participating hospitals have committed to a number of initiatives that include removing fried foods, providing calorie counts, and increasing purchases of fruits and vegetables.
Morrison’s commitment is slightly different than the one the hospitals made in October.
While the participating hospitals have agreed to only promote and display certain healthy foods, Morrison plans to allow exceptions for seven days a year. Individual hospitals, for example, might decide to promote less healthy foods for Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving. The company’s snack items meet separate criteria as does the healthier option meal, which will have about 50 fewer calories that what PHA’s commitment requires.
Morrison in November announced its own wellness platform, which is aligned with much of the PHA initiative. It includes reducing sodium in its meals by 44%, reducing calories by 33%, and offering healthier food choices at the cash register.
“This will deepen our wellness platform commitment by participating with PHA,” said Lisa Roberson, Morrison’s corporate director of wellness.
Atlanta-based Morrison is the healthcare subsidiary of the Compass Group, an international food service provider that is based in the U.K.
Efforts to boost healthy food options in hospitals are on the rise. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene last year said that 32 hospitals had committed to a voluntary program that aims to make food in hospital cafeterias, vending machines and patient meals healthier.
Another effort, which is part of Health Care without Harm, has also encouraged hospitals to sign healthy food pledges