Food is a central and essential component of our lives. Not only does it provide nourishment, it is a hugely important part of every economy and has deep links with people’s cultural identity. However, the food that we produce, consume and waste has a major impact on the environment and on people’s health.
Given the threats that our food system poses to the environment, the economy, and society as a whole, it is imperative that all economic sectors move towards healthier and more sustainable food production, procurement, preparation, consumption, and disposal practices.
Aware of the importance of these issues for the healthcare sector, HCWH Europe produced the report: Fresh, healthy, and sustainable food: Best practices in European healthcare.
The report was presented to the audience at the Health Promoting Hospitals & Health Services (HPH) conference.
As co-organisers of the conference, HCWH Europe also moderated a workshop Food and well-being featuring Susannah McWilliam, Programme Manager of Food for Life Hospital Leaders from the Soil Association, a HCWH Europe member. You can read Susannah's thoughts on the workshop in her blog.
The report takes a look at the work carried out in healthcare facilities across Europe on providing healthy, local, seasonal, and organic food and in preventing and reducing food waste.
The main aim is to highlight the common challenges in implementing healthy and sustainable food policies in some European hospitals, and to provide some examples of leading institutions that could inspire and encourage others to follow suit. At the heart of the report are a number of case studies, which demonstrate the awareness and progressive practices at 22 healthcare facilities within the EU. The report also provides an introduction to the European policy context that is supposed to favour sustainable food practices.
A further aim of the work is to alert policy makers to the fact that conscious efforts to provide healthy and sustainable food are growing because it can also be economically feasible, particularly if the wider benefits to society are taken into account. European legislators should therefore work towards a legislative framework that will ensure a common understanding of healthy and sustainable food in order to facilitate the implementation of harmonised sustainable food strategies across sectors and across the EU.
Some final recommendations are presented, reflecting the learning of leaders in this field and the views of some hospitals and health systems that are already engaged in promoting sustainable and healthy food policies at their institutions.