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Chicken Fight? Yes, Please. Morrison Healthcare Joins Food Day
As a Registered Dietitian, I have worked in hospitals for over 20 years, starting in college, when I helped patients by providing a leaner protein option. I knew I was doing the “right” thing (read as finger air quotes) by recommending a lean chicken breast. Twenty years ago, I would have NEVER doubted that the chicken breast was the healthiest choice or given a second thought about the way that chicken was raised has a broader potential impact on our health and the health of the patient.
Chicken is chicken, right? WRONG!
I had no idea how wrong I was back then. So, fast forward 20 years. My career has certainly evolved, but even greater than that, my thinking has evolved about what makes food truly healthy. Yes, we all need lots of vegetables and some fruit – check! Yes, we need unrefined whole grains – check! Yes, we need some source of high biological value protein – check! But is that really enough?
My answer for the past 10 years has been a resounding “NO!”, unless we have also given EQUAL attention to how that food was sourced and raised. And it goes back to that innocent little chicken breast I used to place on our patient’s trays – yes, it’s full of protein and important B-vitamins, but what if it also took unnecessary chemicals or (gasp) antibiotics to raise it.
How much good was that chicken really doing to promote the health and healing of our bodies?
Morrison Healthcare and our sister company, Touchpoint Support Services, are partnering with Health Care Without Harm in an effort to save the effectiveness of antibiotics by serving meat and poultry raised without routine antibiotics in hospitals. This is an important endeavor for us as healthcare foodservice specialty company of Compass Group – collectively, we have the opportunity to make an impact on over 800 hospitals! Last year, more than 100 of our hospitals participated in the Food Day promotion by serving reduced antibiotic meats and in some locations, meat and poultry raised with No Antibiotics Ever (NAE).
Our goal for this year, is to double the number of hospitals involved in this year’s Food Day event. Additionally, Morrison Healthcare has been participating in meetings of the Market Transformation Group (MTG) for over 2 years, since its inception. The MTG is a working group spearheaded by Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth to accelerate the transformation of the health care supply chain towards more sustainable products, technologies and services.
The goal of our exclusive group is to make healthy and sustainable foods widely available for purchase by all hospitals and healthcare systems that we serve – which essentially means transforming the healthcare supply chain. Our current focus on ‘less meat, better meat’ encourages our suppliers to provide healthier, sustainably-raised meats raised without routine antibiotics, especially meeting at a minimum the new Certified Responsible Antibiotic Use standard for chicken.
This is critically important work – we must TRANSFORM the foodservice supply side to prioritize providing “clean” foods with clean ingredients. At the end of the day, EVERYONE has to eat, right? In a perfect world, it would be nice to just know that the food we eat in hospitals, buy at the grocery store, or purchase from restaurants is the best quality, especially in terms of keeping us healthy. This drive for making the world a healthier place by how we serve and feed patients, caregivers and visitors in our client hospital communities is what keeps me and my company involved with Health Care Without Harm and even more deeply with the MTG.
Twenty years ago, I was focused on meeting the needs of one patient at a time, thinking if they had a lean protein, such as a chicken breast served on their meal tray, it would make a positive impact on their health. Today I still believe this, but I also see the public health impacts that a sustainably –raised chicken breast can make. Twenty years later, I am still serving that healthy chicken to patients, but now I am part of making a BIGGER impact where hundreds of hospitals across the nation may also take part in the transformation.
Please join us in our Food Fight by celebrating Food Day with Health Care Without Harm!
Have You Signed Up for Food Day?
We're asking hospitals and other health care facilities to serve at least one meat or poultry item produced without routine, non-therapeutic antibiotics on Food Day or any day of the week leading up to Food Day. Please join us!
Lisa Roberson, RDN, LD, is the Corporate Director of Wellness for Morrison Healthcare, Member of Compass Group.
This post originally appeared on Health Care Without Harm's blog.