News Release


For Immediate Release: January 19, 2012

Contact:  Louise Mitchell

Phone:    443.257.3209


 Hospitals Across the Region Increase

Local, Sustainable Food Purchases in 2011,
More Growth Predicted for 2012

Baltimore, MD:  Over 40 hospitals in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Northern Virginia are now purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables regularly during the growing season, and nine hospitals are now consistently purchasing meat or poultry produced by local farmers who use sustainable agricultural practices. According to Louise Mitchell, sustainable foods program manager of Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (MD H2E), the result has been healthier hospital food, increased financial viability for local farmers and the local economy, and a healthier environment for local communities.

“Incorporating more local and sustainable foods requires a modification of the traditional purchasing practices of hospitals,” said Mitchell, also one of the regional organizers of Health Care Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Health Care Program. “Leading hospitals in this region deserve a lot of credit for their persistence, determination and strategic thinking on how to make it work.”

Campaigns such as the Buy Local Challenge and the “less meat, better meat” Balanced Menus Challenge by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) offered hospitals opportunities to pilot new purchasing initiatives. Forty hospitals spent nearly $30,000 on local foods in one week during the Buy Local Challenge in July 2011, twice the amount purchased during the same week in 2010 and translating to at least $60,000 of positive impact on the local economy.  Highest purchases for the week included Union Hospital of Cecil County at $5,482, Meritus Medical Center at $2,187 and Civista Medical Center at $1,841. And while most hospitals focused their purchases on local fruits and vegetables, nine hospitals launched or increased the more complex process of purchasing meat or poultry produced by local farmers using sustainable agricultural practices and three others piloted such programs, the focus of the Balanced Menus Challenge.  HCWH defines sustainable agricultural practices for meat and poultry as being raised, at a minimum, without the routine use of antibiotics, without arsenic additives or added growth hormones, and ideally, raised outside on pasture.

“We served local pasture-raised beef from Quiet Meadow Farm in our cafeteria as a pilot project and received rave reviews from our employees.  They loved the quality and the taste,” said Rick Haefner, Food and Nutrition Service Director at Calvert Memorial Hospital in Prince Frederick, Maryland.  “We are now exploring ways to add this beef to our menu more regularly in 2012.”
Hospitals like Calvert Memorial are implementing best practices and cost-saving strategies used by leading institutions, which were highlighted at events and trainings held by MD H2E last year. A day-long conference last May entitled “Local Sustainable Meat & Poultry – Making the Shift in Institutional Purchasing” featured food service directors from hospitals, schools and universities in this region and around the country sharing their successful local sustainable meat and poultry purchasing programs.

The Chefs and Cooks Training last October shared both the “why” and the “how” of working with local, sustainable meat and poultry, which often includes revising patient and cafeteria menus to reduce the total amount of meat and use less familiar cuts of meat in order to manage costs.   “We’re seeing a growing demand from our employees, medical residents, students, and visitors for these local grass-fed meats produced without antibiotics and other additives,” said Tiffany Hightower, operations manager of the food and nutrition services department at George Washington University Hospital.  “We learned many useful strategies at the Chefs and Cooks Training last Fall and we’re starting to take steps to integrate them into our menus.”


Hospitals’ Efforts Are Aided by Developments Throughout the Local Food System

At the same time, the growth of local food purchasing by hospitals has also been facilitated by changes in other segments of the local food system and by resources provided by other critical players in the food chain, laying the groundwork for greater advances in local sustainable meat and poultry purchasing by hospitals in 2012:


  • Distributors now carry sustainable meat and poultry raised by local producers
  • Quality improvement and group purchasing organization Premier healthcare alliance now has Murray’s Chicken, raised in Pennsylvania without antibiotics or arsenic additives, available to their member hospitals around the country
  • The Maryland Department of Agriculture launched a new food safety certification program that certifies small-scale Maryland farmers to process and sell their poultry directly to institutions
  • Local meat processors expanded their processing capabilities, enabling more local farmers to process the higher volumes of meat required by institutions
  • The University of Maryland Extension Agricultural Marketing program developed a new factsheet, Farm-to-Hospital – Selling Farm-Raised Meats and Poultry in Maryland to guide local farmers in how to work with hospitals on purchasing their products
  • Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture featured the theme Farm to Institution: Making Local Food Economies a Reality at its recent annual conference.  It drew record-breaking numbers of over 400 people, including for the first time hospital dietitians, who earned continuing education credits for attending sessions that showed how sustainable food production methods lead to healthier foods


Hospital Efforts Recognized by State and National Organizations

Hospitals also received statewide and national recognition for their accomplishments.  Carroll Hospital Center received 1st place in the national Food Climate Health Connection Award of the Healthy Food in Health Care program of Health Care Without Harm for reducing purchases of conventionally produced meat by 21 percent and reducing food service waste.  The hospital also increased its purchase of local sustainable meat and poultry for patients and cafeteria patrons.

Union Hospital of Cecil County received Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s first Smart, Green and Growing Buy Local Agricultural Challenge Award, the 2011 Maryland Outstanding Rural Health Achievement Award, and the 2011 Trailblazer Award by MD H2E for reaching significant procurement benchmarks including 100 percent local pasture-raised beef, 90 percent local pasture-raised poultry, 9 percent certified organic produce, and other local produce and dairy purchases, bringing their total rate of local food purchasing to 44% of their meat, poultry, produce and dairy.

“Maryland hospitals are demonstrating true leadership,” said Michelle Gottlieb, national coordinator of the Healthy Food in Health Care Program of HCWH. “They are not only protecting the health of their patients, employees, communities and the environments where they live, they are also supporting local farmers and sending a strong message to the marketplace – as a result, they are changing our food system,” said Gottlieb.


Twelve hospitals purchased local sustainable meat and poultry in 2011:


Anne Arundel Medical Center

Calvert Memorial Hospital*

Carroll Hospital Center

Franklin Square Hospital Center

Good Samaritan Hospital

Harbor Hospital

Meritus Medical Center*

National Rehabilitation Hospital

Union Hospital of Cecil County

Union Memorial Hospital

University of Maryland Medical Center*

Washington Hospital Center

*piloted this purchasing initiative


Forty hospitals purchased local foods during the 2011 Buy Local Challenge:


Anne Arundel Medical Center

Atlantic General Hospital

Baltimore Washington Medical Center

Bon Secours Hospital

Calvert Memorial Hospital

Carroll Hospital Center

Chester River Hospital Center

Civista Medical Center

Doctors Community Hospital

Franklin Square Hospital Center

Frederick Memorial Hospital

Good Samaritan Hospital

Greater Baltimore Medical Center

Harbor Hospital

Harford Memorial Hospital

The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States

Maryland General Hospital

Mercy Medical Center

Meritus Medical Center

Montgomery General Hospital

Mt. Washington Pediatric Center

Oak Crest

Peninsula Regional Medical Center

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital

Sinai Hospital of Baltimore

Saint Agnes Hospital

St. Joseph Medical Center

St. Mary’s Hospital

Suburban Hospital

Union Hospital of Cecil County

Union Memorial Hospital

University of Maryland Medical Center

Upper Chesapeake Medical Center

Western Maryland Regional Medical Center


District of Columbia

Children’s National Medical Center

National Rehabilitation Hospital

Washington Hospital Center



Inova Alexandria Hospital

Inova Fairfax Hospital


Additional resources including pictures and stories of hospitals’ local food programs, links to the Buy Local Challenge and Balanced Menus Challenge, presentations and reporting from the Local Sustainable Meat & Poultry conference and the Chefs and Cooks Training, factsheets and other information are available at


 Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (MD H2E) is a technical assistance and networking initiative of the University of Maryland School of Nursing that promotes environmental sustainability in health care including pollution prevention, waste reduction, environmentally preferable purchasing, green building, and sustainable food practices. Participants include hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, research laboratories, and other ancillary health care provider in Maryland.

The Healthy Food in Health Care Program is a national initiative of Health Care Without Harm, developed in conjunction with its member organizations, which mobilizes advocates to work with hospitals across the country to help improve the sustainability of their food services. For more information about the HCWH Healthy Food in Health Care Program, visit

 Heath Care Without Harm (HCWH), an international coalition of more than 500 organizations in 53 countries, is working to transform the health care sector, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. To learn more about HCWH’s work, visit our website at, our YouTube channel at HCwithoutharm, and our twitter feed at hcwithoutharm.



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