Representatives from several hospitals in Philadelphia were honored by a local nonprofit on Wednesday for their efforts toward making the city healthier. Leaders from Temple University Hospital were found long before the ceremony began and gleaming with pride.
Common Market, a local nonprofit that connects institutions with healthy, local food, honored TUH along with Jeanes Auxiliary Hospital and Lankenau Medical Center. The hospitals were each tasked with eliminating trans fats, lowering sodium and offering more whole, unrefined foods, beverages and ingredients in food served at the hospitals.
“There are a lot [of standards],” said Jeffery Klova, the executive chef at TUH. “This was not an easy process.”
The ceremony of about 40 people met in in a large room in City Hall last week.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Philadelphians are struggling with obesity — approximately 67 percent of adults and 41 percent of youth between the ages 6 and 17 are overweight or obese.
“This is a serious problem,” Philadelphia’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley said in his speech.
Farley was introduced by Tatiana Garcia Granados, the founder and chief operations officer of Common Market.
“It is time for action,” said Granados during the ceremony. She was the driving force behind the “Good Food, Healthy Hospitals” movement.
Common Market, along with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, introduced the public health initiative “Get Healthy Philly.”
“Through your commitment you are giving healthy local foods to community members that may have never had it,” said Granados.
She also shared her concern for the high obesity rates in Philadelphia and said her company believes the first step toward fixing this issue is to address the meals served at “anchor institutions.”
These are hospitals, schools, universities and government agencies that “anchor” towns and cities, Granados said during her speech. “These institutions make intentional and targeted investments, but often overlook their own community’s food procurement needs.”
But how do institutions treat buying food in Philadelphia?
For Klova, making sure food is healthy for his customers is already very important. and has only been strengthened by his partnership with Common Market.
“Jeff is always checking food labels and is very aware of the ingredients in all the foods we serve,” said Joseph Moleski, the director of Hospitality and Nutrition Services at TUH.
“We have made simple changes in our menu such as replacing soda with water and checking the amount of sodium in our foods,” said Klova. “We are constantly looking for a local source to get our products.”
For Common Market, it is much more than providing healthy food for the community. Granados explained that “anchor institutions can increase their social and economic impacts in their regions while also providing constituents with fresh nutritious food.”
According to a press release for the ceremony, when anchor institutions commit to providing local and healthy food, farms increase their production to meet that demand. This increases jobs and financing opportunities for more money to be spent locally.
“We are very excited,” Elizabeth Craig, TUH’s chief nursing executive.
Klova, Moleski and Craig were joined by Associate Director Adam Messer and Clinical Nutrition Manager Michele Ondeck Williams as the team accepted their award for the standard that they achieved.
“Your commitment to this program helps everyone in your community and everyone that walks through your door,” Granados said.
Patrick Bilow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.