In early 2011, I was speaking with a co-worker about the food situation where we work at Seattle Children's Hospital and we began to formulate an idea of meeting to speak with leaders and management to propose several ideas for potentially creating a food change in our cafeteria. We met with a group known as the Obesity Advocacy Team and they were so enthusiastic about our project and wanted to form a sub-group interested in creating change in the cafeteria and supported us in going to speak with leadership. However, we found that once we went to speak with the leadership people the support began to wane; people would not answer our e-mails and questions any longer and we were told that Seattle Children's was not interested in devoting money to overhauling or creating change in the cafeteria at the time. We were also told by one of the food coordinators, "We are not going to tell families what is healthy and what is not healthy. These families are here under great amounts of stress and we are not going to tell them whether or not it is o.k. to eat a bag o M&M's. We will offer more healthy options in our vending machines and in the cafeteria and hope that families choose those options over the other choices."
Why share this story? I will admit a small part of me is a little nervous at mentioning the name of the place where I work and what happened when attempting to create a food change in my work place. However, I feel it is more important to take a stand and refuse to live in a place of fear when a company supposedly devoted to 'Hope. Care. Cure' (Seattle Children's slogan) is not actively devoting a portion of its profits to health and nutrition.
When large corporations and non-profits refuse to acknowledge how key nutrition is to creating healthy bodies it should make society as a whole stand up and take notice. This is even more true for me as I look at places such as The Cleveland Clinic, Plow to Plate and New Milford Hospital, and Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital are passionately and creatively investing in the lives and health of their patients.
I hope through this post to inspire people to take a stand in their places of employment and find ways to create healthy eating environments, especially in hospitals, clinics and other institutions of health.
Presentation to Seattle Children's Leadership - click link to read
Food Served at Seattle Children's Hospital contrasted with local grocery store salad bar