Thirteen Maryland hospitals have committed, so far, to buying and serving foods from local farmers in their menus during the Maryland 2014 Buy Local Challenge. The annual Buy Local Challenge (BLC), an initiative created by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, is a personal commitment to support farms by eating local. Maryland residents are asked to pledge to eat at least one thing from a local source every day during Buy Local Week, July 19-27th.
The BLC has partnered again this year with the Chesapeake Food Leadership Council, an initiative of Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (MD H2E), to invite hospitals and other large-volume purchasing institutions to participate in the Buy Local Challenge by serving at least one local food each day during Buy Local Week. Those that sign up to participate will be recognized on the BLC website.
The Maryland hospitals participating are: Carroll Hospital Center, Frederick Memorial Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Laurel Regional Hospital, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, Meritus Medical Center, University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital, University of Maryland Medical Center, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, Union Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital and Western Maryland Health System. These hospitals are also encouraged to serve local, sustainable meat and poultry produced without routine antibiotic use, as well as local certified organic foods.
Hospitals are also encouraging their employees, including their executives and surrounding community, to take the pledge to eat local foods. “Health care providers understand the importance of providing the freshest produce to their patients and employees while supporting local farmers, and growing our regional food system and local economy,” said Louise Mitchell, sustainable foods program manager for MD H2E. Last year, fifty-six hospitals and nursing homes in the Mid-Atlantic region served over $53,500 in locally produced vegetables, fruit, beef, pork and poultry.
Jointly promoted with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the statewide BLC initiative highlights the environmental, health and economic benefits of buying local food. This campaign to engage health care has catalyzed a movement towards healthier food choices at hospitals, increased support for local farmers and the local economy, and healthier communities—not only during Buy Local Week, but throughout the year. Any institution, organization or business participating in the BLC is encouraged to download free resource materials including official BLC logos, fliers, press releases, and to use #buylocalchallenge to tweet the latest BLC happenings around the state. For details and to sign up, visit the sustainable foods page at the MD H2E website.
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About MD H2E: Established in 2005, MD H2E's vision is to advance a culture of environmental health and sustainability in Maryland’s health care community by engaging Maryland hospitals and health care providers though networking, education, technical assistance and recognition. MD H2E has established itself as the go-to organization for sustainability in health care in Maryland; no other program serves this role in this region.