MIDDLEBURY-Laura Brace, director of Food Services at Porter Hospital, signed the Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, a voluntary commitment by hospitals nationwide to identify, adopt and implement local, nutritious and sustainable food in healthcare. The pledge acknowledges that healthy food is defined not only by food that is nutritious, but also equally by a food system that is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and supportive of human dignity and justice.
"This is a huge opportunity to build upon our current efforts and improve what we are doing here at Porter for our patients, families and staff," Brace said. "This is a chance to not only be more aware of existing possibilities but also be proactive to learn about the many new resources available to us", she said.
In keeping with the philosophy of this program, Porter's food service operation is currently involved in several initiatives that ensure that fresh, local fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products are served routinely to patients and staff.
Additionally, Brace has become a Certified Master Gardener with the UVM Extension Service and an active participant in the hospital's Recycling Committee in an effort to increase her knowledge and involvement in programs that promote the environment and support the local economy.
Other less visible steps that Porter has taken to be more environmentally friendly in our dietary department include replacing the dish-room sprayer with a low flow valve to save water and replacing plate heaters with a combination heaters to reduce electric costs.
According to Brace, Porter has worked with local farms and food vendors to purchase fresh products, such as turkeys from a poultry farm in Orwell, milk, cottage cheese, sour cream from Monument Farms Dairy in Weybridge, eggs/maple syrup from Maple Meadow Farms in Salisbury, beef from Greg's Meat Market in Middlebury and apples from Champlain Orchards.
Brace also has a long list of new ideas to investigate including possibilities of introducing composting, even more local purchasing, serving only fair trade coffee, exploring more recycling opportunities, introducing reusable water bottles and mugs for staff and a starting a community/organization garden. She says that her department has some specific short-term goals, such as revising patient menus to be trans fat free, as well as some long- term goals such as a vegetable swap during the summer months.
Porter Hospital joins the more than 200 hospitals across the country that have signed the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge