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Press Release

Press Release # 025-12
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Jean Weinberg:

Health Department Announces Innovative New Program to Support Healthier Food in Hospitals

The New York City Healthy Hospital Food Initiative encourages hospitals to increase access to healthier foods and beverages.

September 25, 2012 – The Health Department announced today that over 30 New York City hospitals are participating in the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative, an unprecedented voluntary program that promotes healthier food choices in hospitals. Seventeen private hospitals have committed to participation, building off of the successful changes implemented by the NYC Health and Hospital Corporation’s 15 medical facilities. These commitments will impact over 125,000 hospital employees and millions of hospital patients and visitors annually. Under the initiative, participating hospitals will make healthy choices readily available for staff, patients and visitors across multiple venues. They will implement the NYC Food Standards in four areas including: cafeterias, beverage vending machines, food vending machines and patient meals.

“Hospitals should set the standard for promoting healthy behaviors and with this initiative in New York City, they are doing just that,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “The Healthy Hospital Food Initiative is the most comprehensive approach to improving food options inside our hospitals. “I applaud the hospitals that are making changes to offer more healthy options throughout their facilities offering everyone, from patients to visitors, better choices.”

Hospitals are important venues for improving the dietary health of New Yorkers. Not only are they institutions that promote health and treat disease, they also serve millions of employees, visitors and patients each year. The NYC Food Standards, first established in 2008 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are consistent with the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Institute of Medicine guidelines for a healthy diet, and use progressive strategies to make healthy foods easily available.

“We support the Health Department’s move to promote more nutritious options in hospitals and are proud to participate in this important initiative aimed at primary prevention of obesity and chronic disease,” says Kenneth L. Davis, MD, the CEO and President of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. “We need to recognize that on an individual level, obesity underlies or exacerbates most chronic disease today, including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.  On a population level, they result in many avoidable hospitalizations, re-admissions and, ultimately, trillions of dollars in health care spending.”

“At NYU Langone Medical Center, we recognize the integral role healthy eating plays in both wellness and the healing process, and we have worked to enhance the taste of our patient meals while improving the nutritional content,” said Amy Horrocks, Vice President for medical services at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Our commitment to offering healthy food is synonymous with our vision to ensure world-class patient-centered care.”

Changes are already underway: to date, 21 private and public hospitals have already implemented beverage vending machine standards, affecting over 700 machines. These standards decrease the offerings of high-calorie beverages and make healthier options more prominent. Twenty-two hospitals are in the process of implementing the food vending machine standards, which would increase the availability of healthy snack options, and 11 hospitals are already making changes in their cafeterias/cafes, including making fruits, vegetables and whole grains more available.

Nutrition-related health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, and cancer are the city’s leading causes of death and disability, burdening New York not only with illness but also with lost productivity and higher health care costs. Nationally, obesity-related health problems cost private employers $73 billion each year.

“HHC healthcare facilities are committed to making healthy food options available to our patients, nursing home residents, staff and visitors,” said Alan D. Aviles, President, New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation. “We are already in compliance with the city's guidelines for patient meals and vending machines and look forward to working with our cafeteria vendors to help bring them into compliance with the new standards.,”

“The Healthy Hospital Food Initiative is another example of the hospital community’s commitment to improving the health of hospital patients, staff, and visitors,” said Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth E. Raske. “The City Health Department has once again developed a strong initiative to improve public health.”

Participating hospitals:

Bellevue Hospital Center
Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center Health Care System
Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility
Coney Island Hospital
Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
Elmhurst Hospital Center
Gouverneur Health Nursing Home
Harlem Hospital Center
Hospital for Joint Diseases, NYU Langone Medical Center
Jacobi Medical Center
Kings County Hospital Center
Lincoln Medical And Mental Health Center
Maimonides Medical Center
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Metropolitan Hospital Center
Montefiore Medical Center - Children's Hospital at Montefiore
Montefiore Medical Center - Jack D. Weiler Hospital
Montefiore Medical Center - Moses Hospital
Montefiore Medical Center - Wakefield Hospital
New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center
New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center
New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital
New York-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital
North Central Bronx Hospital
Queens Hospital Center
Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center
Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center & Home
St. Barnabas Hospital
The Mount Sinai Hospital
Tisch Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center
Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

By joining the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative, participating hospitals have agreed to voluntarily implement the following four NYC Food Standards:

Standards for Cafeterias/Cafes:

These standards use a variety of techniques to make the healthy choice the easy choice including increasing the availability of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains; promote healthy value meals; limit the promotion of high calorie beverages and eliminate fried foods.

Standards for Beverage Vending Machines:

These standards decrease the availability of high calorie beverages, including addressing the placement of high calorie beverages, and ensuring that advertisements on machines are promoting healthy choices.

Standards for Food Vending Machines:

Food vending machines at participating hospitals include nutrition requirements for calories, saturated fat, sodium, sugar, fiber and other nutrients in stocked products.

Standards for Patient Meals:

Patient meal standards provide nutrition requirements for individual foods purchased, such as sodium limits for bread and cereal, and for meals served, such as two fruit or vegetable servings at lunch and dinner.

This program is part of New York City’s larger approach to healthy eating and addressing chronic diseases. In December 2011, Mayor Bloomberg charged Deputy Mayor Gibbs and Deputy Mayor of Operations Holloway with significantly strengthening the City’s anti-obesity efforts by creating a multi-agency task force that would recommend innovative, proactive solutions to address the obesity crisis in New York City.

The initiative is launching with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. Funding is administered by the Fund for Public Health in New York, a private non-profit organization that supports innovative initiatives of the New York City Health Department.

To learn more about the NYC Healthy Hospital Food Initiative, visit