DENVER — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has recognized 14 hospitals involved with the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact, an agreement by hospitals to promote breastfeeding and offer healthier food and beverage options in cafeterias, vending machines, and patient menus.
CDPHE welcomed five new hospitals to the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact and nine hospitals continue working to offer, serve, and sell foods and beverages that meet the Compact nutrition criteria. The COVID-19 pandemic has strained the capacity of all hospital staff including food service, but despite staffing shortages and supply chain delays, food service continued.
“We know how difficult the last year has been for all of us, and to have 14 hospitals continue to prioritize healthy eating in the midst of these challenges is just incredible. We are so proud of their work and their commitment to health and wellness for their patients, staff, and visitors,” Ynke de Koe, MS, RD, Nutrition Integration Specialist, CDPHE.
To support optimal health and prevent nutrition-related chronic disease, hospitals are being urged to impact increase the availability of healthy foods and beverages and limit or eliminate unhealthy options. According to CDPHE, the 14 hospitals recognized collectively improved their nutrition environments by increasing the availability of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and plant based proteins and decreasing the availability of added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
CDPHE has also created an assessment tool to help hospitals prioritize areas in which they could improve the food and beverage options in the cafeteria, vending machines, and patient menus. Hospitals used the tool to enter all the available foods and beverages and calculate the percent of options that met the Compact nutrition criteria. With this data, hospitals were able to identify changes they could make to meet the nutrition criteria.
Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact is made up of four programs: Healthy Food, Healthy Beverages, Marketing, and Breastfeeding practices. Each program is made up of a set of standards. As hospitals implement the standards, they earn points, eventually achieving a level of recognition of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Hospitals choose which programs to implement and which standards to achieve. The health department completes an annual review and recognizes each hospital depending on standards achieved.