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NVRH Cafeteria Takes the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge

November 11, 2008

NVRH Cafeteria Takes the Healthy Food In Health Care Pledge

The Food Service Department and cafeteria at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital has been recognized as a leader among national hospitals in its commitment to providing food that is healthy for people and the environment.
In early 2008, NVRH Food Service took the "Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge". The pledge is part of a national initiative sponsored by Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations and religious groups.
Health Care Without Harm is working with hospitals "to adopt food service policies that provide nutritionally improved food for patients, staff, visitors, and the public; and create food systems that are ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible".
Poor nutrition and obesity is a risk factor for chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Chronic diseases account for over 80% of the healthcare costs in Vermont. The total amount spent on treating chronic conditions is expected to double in the U.S. by 2050. But many chronic conditions can be controlled, or even prevented, by lifestyle choices. Healthy foods play an important part in a healthy lifestyle.
"As the largest healthcare provider in our community, NVRH has an obligation to set a good example by providing healthy food options in our cafeteria," said Laural Ruggles, VP of Marketing and Community Health Improvement at NVRH. "The community expects the hospital to take the lead in all areas of health. As health care professionals, we need to practice good health habits and make healthy choices ourselves."
Reducing obesity by improving nutrition is only part of the story. An important piece of the healthy food initiative is recognizing that industrial food production and distribution in the United States can have a negative effect on the environment. The Pledge outlines ways to purchase foods that are pesticide, hormone, and chemical free; to reduce waste; and to support sustainable and local agriculture.
Sheila Delworth does the purchasing for the NVRH cafeteria. "Our suppliers make it clear which foods are grown or processed within the state," said Sheila. "I try to buy locally whenever possible, while still keeping an eye on the price."
The NVRH cafeteria buys seasonal fresh produce from Harvest Hill Farm in Walden. "Right now, we’re buying potatoes from there," adds Delworth.
Norma Leach, Payroll Administrator in the NVRH Finance Department, has eaten lunch in the NVRH Cafeteria for almost 30 years and appreciates the healthier changes to the menu. "I liked having the fresh cooked vegetables last summer. And the whole wheat pasta and low fat cheeses make it easier for me to eat the foods I like and still eat healthy," said Leach.
As of May 2008, there were just over 100 hospitals nationwide to take the healthy foods pledge. For more information about the healthy foods pledge, and to see the complete list of hospitals, visit Health Care Without Harm at

Contact Information:
Laural Ruggles
Vice President of Marketing and Community Health Improvement