The Nutrition Services Department at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital is participating in the worldwide organization Health Care Without Harm’s “Healthy Food in Healthcare” initiative. BMH (and two other Vermont hospitals – Fletcher-Allen Health Care and Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital) have taken a pledge toward meeting some of the criteria as a commitment to our patients, staff, and community patrons. In taking this significant step, BMH also joins more than 160 hospitals across the country that have signed this pledge, among them Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Hackensack University Medical Center (the fourth largest healthcare facility in the country), and Catholic Healthcare West health system (the largest US Catholic healthcare system).

BMH Nutrition Services Director Jamie Baribeau, who initiated this effort, says, “During the next several months the hospital plans to meet many of the criteria set forth in this initiative. We currently participate in the Vermont Fresh Network and purchase locally-produced foods throughout the year – some directly from farmers, and other items distributed by Black River Produce in Vermont and Sid Wainer Produce in Massachusetts. We will be working with the local Brattleboro Farmers’ Market and local producers to set up a farmers’ market on the hospital grounds throughout the summer.”

The hospital will be constructing an herb garden for its own use, and will continue to add eco-friendly products as they become more readily available and financially feasible. In addition, BMH has begun a small composting program with a local farmer in Westminster, Vermont, for the hospital’s produce waste. BMH will also be featuring locally-baked breads on a monthly basis.

Another initiative of the BMH Nutrition Services Department has been to work with the Maine Coast Sea Vegetable Farm testing seaweed products for their nutritional value and health benefits, along with developing recipes, some of which are being developed in some inpatient hospital menus. BMH is the only hospital from Vermont participating in this venture.