May 11, 2009

Our 6th birthday

Last Friday we had our hospital’s farmers market 6th birthday. A sunny day, blues music, balloons, Eating Well cookbooks signed and given away, a good crowd of shoppers, and 30 juniors from Oakland High School out to learn about local food systems and careers in health care.

Our Oakland Kaiser Permanente market was one of the first hospital based markets in the country. We now have 30 markets in four states. San Jose Kaiser Permanente has created a mobile cooking demo van that went to 156 community events last year. Kaiser Permanente in South Central L.A. started a farmers market in a community park in Watts.

We’ve brought tasty local fruits and vegetables to our inpatients. We sourced about 25 tons of local farmer food to our Northern California hospitals in 2006 and 75 tons last year to hospitals in North and South.

Organic food boxes are being delivered to an ever increasing number of our employees in Kaiser Permanente regional and national office buildings as well as some hospitals and medical office buildings that don’t have farmers markets.

Hundreds of our vending machines are offering healthier options.

And just this week, at Oakland, we’ve begun to offer prepared complete meals using local farmer ingredients that are nutritionally appropriate for everyone but specifically for some of our sickest patients delivered to home at a reasonable cost. Sometimes those having the most health problems have the most problem having good meals. Just maybe this new program will help them.

There is so much more to do. Good local foods are good for the people who eat them, good for the local economy, and good for the planet.