Monday, June 8, 2009

Idaho Hospital Implements Sustainable Foods Program

St. Luke’s has recently implemented their first of two seasonal menus.
KETCHUM, ID – At many institutions, reconstituted potatoes, canned soup, and instant tapioca pudding are daily staples, but not at St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center. St. Luke’s Wood River is the first hospital in Idaho, and one of the few nationwide, to implement a sustainable foods program. Sustainable foods are produced by people and with practices that value and care for the earth, workers, food and human health.

Called St. Luke’s Green Cuisine, the hospital recently launched a sustainable foods program that incorporates fresh local ingredients into the cafeteria offerings and patient meals. Through this program, the hospital hopes to change the way people think of hospital food.

First Do No Harm
“We are proud to take this step for our patients, our staff and our community,” reports Bruce Jensen, CEO of St. Luke’s Wood River. Through the Green Cuisine program, the hospital has pledged to provide highly satisfying food that sustains the health of us, our community and the Earth. “Pledging to support procurement of local, nutritious, sustainable produced food demonstrates our commitment to “first, do no harm” as a whole hospital approach to preventive medicine.”

To help establish this groundbreaking program, St. Luke’s hired John Turenne, President of Sustainable Food Systems, thanks to funding provided by the hospital’s Innovation Fund, a fund developed through philanthropic support to help implement new ideas. Turenne was the former head chef at Yale University, who, in collaboration with chef and sustainable agriculture advocate Alice Waters, transformed Yale’s dining program to sustainable foods.

To introduce the hospital’s new sustainable foods program, Turenne will offer a cooking demonstration, “Grilling pizzas a unique and delicious way to eat healthy” 1 p.m. Sunday, June 14 at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge during the Sun Valley Food and Wine Festival. Turenne’s demonstration is the second in the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation Health and Well being Speaker Series focused on optimal health through nutrition.

Menu Includes Locally Grown Foods
“When a soda a day raises diabetes risk by 80 percent, a high fat meal decreases coronary blood flow, and the average U.S. meal travels 1,500 miles to arrive on our lunch tray, is it such a radical idea to change our hospital food service back to a whole foods and sustainable full cycle system?” asks Dr. Tom Archie of St. Luke’s Family Medicine, “St. Luke’s Wood River has taken the initiative to make a bold and sensible change. I have never been so proud to be part of a hospital’s medical staff.”

Since the program’s launch in May, St. Luke’s Wood River has worked with local businesses such as Hailey Coffee Company, Bigwood Bread, Cloverleaf Dairy and Idaho’s Bounty to integrate local items into its offerings. While still in its infancy, the cafeteria at St. Luke’s has recently implemented their first of two seasonal menus, using fresh, whole fruits and vegetables for recipes based on simplicity, nutritional value, and taste. Inpatient menus will be also be in
sync with the new, healthy menu.

Food Waste Reduced
The hospital has dramatically reduced the use of disposable plates, bowls and plastic ware in the facility. They have worked with College of Southern Idaho to procure a culinary arts training session for their staff, and have sought a minimally processed, healthier food supply with fresh ingredients, void of partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats).

As St. Luke’s Wood River states on their literature, “Do what you can, one food at a time, one meal at a time, one day at a time.” With this new program, the hospital is doing their part.
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