Farm to Hospital: A lifeline to a Healthy Recovery

With obesity and preventable diseases on the rise, hospitals are a key component to creating a healthy, just food system. Buy Fresh Buy Local Southern Wisconsin (BFBLSW), a program of REAP Food Group, is proud to announce a new partnership with the American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH), part of the University of Wisconsin Health System. In spring 2013, AFCH launched the Farmers’ Market Café, the first project of its kind in the Madison, Wisconsin area.

The menu will feature meals and to-go items made with locally-sourced meats, dairy products, and seasonal produce. All items will also fulfill UW Health’s My Smart Choice label, a hassle-free label that guarantees every meal meets specific nutrition measurements, including limitations on calories, saturated fat, and trans fat.

The impact of this partnership could potentially encourage change across the healthcare system here in Madison, as well as create immediate and long-term impacts on the revenue going directly into our local farms.

“Making the connection to local producers provides a ‘win-win’ for all. It means less travel time for perishables, support for sustaining the local economy and our local farmers, less processed food, and improved taste and nutrition. This could mean a major ‘cultural shift’ for us, our staff, and the patients and families we serve,” says Nan Peterson, Program Director of Child Health Advocacy at American Family Children’s Hospital. “We have an obligation to ensure the promotion, accessibility and affordability of healthy food choices to aid in patient recovery, and to model health and wellness for families and staff.”

Capacity has been one of the greatest difficulties to integrating healthcare and other institutions into the local food movement. Theresa Feiner, BFBL Program Manager, will play a key role in facilitating relationships between the hospital and local providers that can accommodate their needs. “We view farm-to-health care as the next big push in the local food movement in the Madison area. As support continues to grow, Madison-area hospitals are beginning to take note and see value. We hope the Farmers’ Market Cafe at AFCH will serve as a model for not only UW Hospital, but other hospitals here in Madison as well… it’s only the beginning!”