Freeman recommits to Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge

Monday, April 30, 2012 - Freeman recommits to Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge

JOPLIN, Mo.—By re-signing the Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, Freeman continues its efforts to improve the community’s well-being through food policy change. Part of the national Healthy Food in Healthcare Initiative developed by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Health Care Without Harm, this pledge outlines Freeman’s commitment to increase its offering of fruits and vegetables; to work with local farmers and food suppliers to improve the availability of fresh, locally produced food; and to educate the community about nutritious food practices. 

In 2010, Freeman became the first hospital in the state to sign the Healthy Food in Healthcare pledge.

“This promise further establishes Freeman's commitment to serving local, nutritious, and sustainable food,” said Paula Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “Freeman will continue to strive to overcome one of the greatest barriers to improving health—the availability of fresh foods. By increasing our offerings of fresh produce, we hope to promote lifestyle changes that will have lasting effects.”

According to Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, 19% of southwest Missouri residents are in fair or poor health and 24% have activity limitations. 78% percent eat fewer than five servings of fruits or vegetables per day, and 65.5% are obese.

Since originally signing the pledge in December 2010, Freeman has increased the amount of fresh, locally and regionally grown foods served within the health system. Farmers markets were established at each of the system’s three campuses to make fresh produce available to the community. Those farmers markets will start this year on May 30.

In addition, Freeman meals were aligned with United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines and feature right-size food portions. The purchase of broilers, steamers, and additional salad bars maximizes nutritious food options such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Also, cafeteria displays with menu item nutrition information help patients, employees, and visitors make informed dietary decisions.

About Freeman Health System
Based in Joplin, Missouri, Freeman Health System is the area’s only locally owned, not-for-profit health system, serving southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas. Freeman provides comprehensive healthcare and behavioral health services, including cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurosciences, orthopaedics, and women’s services, with more than 300 physicians representing 60 specialties. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com or facebook.com/freemanhealthsystem, or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at twitter.com/freemanceo.