2022 health care food trends

From delicious climate solutions to donating food to neighboring nonprofits to prioritizing purchasing from local businesses owned by people of color, going into 2022, health care food service has become a force for healing.

The data from 2020 was impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 48% of hospitals shut down food service areas for periods of time.

Here is a reflection on 2021 and a look ahead.

Data provided by Practice Greenhealth hospital partners

Cooking up climate action

The need to focus on climate change was elevated exponentially this past year — climate crises from fires to floods to heat domes have gotten the public’s attention and deepened the health care sector’s commitment to being part of the solution. Food-related emissions represent 33% of global greenhouse gases. During the global conference on climate change, COP26, the Biden-Harris administration joined forces with other countries committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the health care sector.

Data provided by Practice Greenhealth hospital partners

Unleashing the power of procurement

Groundbreaking analysis helped us quantify the true costs of our conventional food system — costs that are externalized for individuals, society, and the environment to bear.

Data provided by Practice Greenhealth hospital partners

Community health and resilience

A deeper understanding has emerged of the connection between the ways that institutions engage with and invest in their communities and the ability for our food systems to support health, create community wealth, and be responsive in crisis. With the change in administration, we have been working with partners and lawmakers to champion a set of policy recommendations for a resilient food system.

  • The new California culinary center that is creating 150 living-wage jobs, purchasing from local, sustainable, and diverse farmers and food businesses, and producing 50,000 healthy meals daily to local institutions
  • Boston hospitals collaborating with CommonWealth Kitchen, an incubator for food entrepreneurs, to expand small business opportunities and build local food system infrastructure
  • A unique collaboration between health care and Agri-Cultura Network, a community agriculture network and aggregator, advocating for retail outlets (dollar stores) to be part of the web to create community health through local food production
Data provided by Practice Greenhealth hospital partners

Looking ahead to 2022

Health care-community partnerships

Located in one of these regions? Join an innovation project.
  • How to increase institutional food purchases from food and farm businesses owned by people of color
  • How to partner with communities to leverage their multiple assets (purchasing, community benefits, and investments) to support resilient local food infrastructure and community health, wealth, and resilience
  • How hospitals can be part of the climate solution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions through what they serve and purchase while reducing food loss and waste
  • How to collectively mobilize and evaluate the impact of good food purchasing across institutional food service sectors

Virtual cohorts & other learning opportunities

We are increasing opportunities for learning to support implementation, evaluation, and program success. From new cohorts focused on food service sustainability to the Cool Food Pledge to robust food-related learning sessions at CleanMed 2022, the premier national conference for leaders in health care sustainability, we have built spaces for learning from experts and peers.

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Health Care Without Harm

Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform health care worldwide so the sector reduces its environmental footprint and becomes a leader in the global movement.