Henry Ford Health System: Healthy Food Options Trims Fat and Costs

Henry Ford Health System cut 7 tons of fat from food and increased fruit and vegetable purchases by 10% annually in an effort to offer patients more healthy food choices.

In addition, the hospital system removed all fryers and committed to removing all deep fried fat products, promotes only healthy food options within 5 feet of cash registers and advertises only healthy food choice options on cafeteria advertising and menus.

“We have a responsibility to provide our communities with a wide variety of affordable, delicious, healthy food options—making the healthy choice the easy choice,” says Henry Ford Chief Wellness Officer Kimberlydawn Wisdom, MD. “Our patients, employees, and other customers like what we’re doing.”

Offering healthy options can be a money-maker, too, says Wisdom. After the system implemented healthy food choices, revenue increased 7% at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital in 2013.

Dietitians and chefs worked together to make healthful foods beautiful and enticing to both patients and café customers, says John Miller, director of Culinary Wellness at Henry Ford Health System.

“Healthy food doesn’t need to be expensive or boring,” Miller says. “We’re excited to see the response as we introduce even more healthy food options throughout the hospital system.”

Henry Ford Health System spent the past several years increasing healthy food options for cafés and patients. In 2013, Henry Ford committed to Partnership for a Healthier America’s Hospital Healthy Food Initiative guidelines to improve nutrition of patient meals as well as what is offered at on-site cafés. The three-year, three-month commitment lasts through 2016, with Henry Ford the only hospital system in Michigan joining the initiative.

“A hospital is a center for health, but we know that comfort food is important, too,” Wisdom says. “The goal of this initiative is to increase healthy options or make less-healthy choices a little more healthy—not deprive people of choices.”

Henry Ford had already met the Partnership for a Healthier America initiative of increasing fruit and vegetable purchases to 10% of total food dollars purchased by 2015. All four Henry Ford Health System hospitals meet the guideline, with two spending more than 20%. The hospital system also has committed to:

• Meeting Partnership for a Healthier America requirements that at least 40% for 2013, 50% for 2014, and 60% for 2015 of a la carte entrees and side dishes meet healthy guidelines. In three of four hospitals, 40% of entrees and side dishes met the criteria in 2013, with plans for all hospitals to meet the 50% goal in 2014.

• Remove all fryers and deep fried fat products. The fryers have been removed from all hospitals and at least one hospital has also removed all deep fat fried products with plans to phase them out of the remaining three facilities.

• Promote only healthy food options within five feet of cash registers. All Henry Ford Health System are compliant. Henry Ford Health System also worked with Pepsi to rewrap all of the café refrigerators with nonbranded, healthy images.

• Offer wellness meals for both adult and children in cafés and to adult and pediatric patients. All HFHS hospitals currently offer at least one adult and children’s wellness meal.

“We firmly believe that this commitment will allow us to better fulfill our main goal of providing our patients with the best care possible, while also promoting health throughout the community,” Wisdom says.

Source: Henry Ford Health System