Newswise — DETROIT – Henry Ford Health System is the first health system in Michigan to join a new national initiative to provide healthier food options for its patient room service and cafeterias.

For its participation in Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), Henry Ford pledges to boost the number of nutritional food options in the next three years at Henry Ford Hospital, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital. This includes:

• Labeling items with calories per serving in patient menus and the cafeteria, and displaying only health-promoting food options.• Removing all fryers and deep- fat fried foods.• Boosting the percentage of fruits and vegetables purchased by 20 percent.• Offering a daily wellness meal that meets healthy nutrition standards and is priced less than or equal to other meal options.• Ensuring that at least 60 percent of a la carte entrees and side dishes meet healthy nutrition guidelines.• Increasing the percentage of healthy beverages purchased to 80 percent, e.g., water, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, unflavored milk and unsweetened non-dairy milk, unsweetened teas and coffee.

“Making healthy foods easily available for our patients, employees and guests is part of our overall commitment of providing quality health care,” says Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian and director of Henry Ford’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. “We’re proud to help set a national benchmark for serving healthy food options in our cafeterias.”

Henry Ford is one of 16 health systems nationally representing more than 150 hospitals to team up with the PHA’s Hospital Healthy Food Initiative. First lady Michelle Obama serves as honorary chair for the three-year program.

To ensure its partner hospitals meet their pledges, the PHA requires that pledges carry time-sensitive deadlines and be verified by an independent third party. Henry Ford’s participation in the PHA is the evolution of its culinary wellness model established five years ago to deliver healthier food options. For instance, deep fryers and fry shortening already have been removed for meal preparation, cafeterias are serving leaner meats, and fresh produce and other food products and purchased from local merchants. In 2011 alone, Henry Ford removed more than 13,000 pounds of fat from its meals by removing deep fryers and fry shortening, purchasing leaner cuts of meat and using less fat in food preparation. It saved more than $28,000 by just cutting out fry shortening.

Thayer says food selections are prepared healthier, without compromising taste and nutrition, and patient meals are tailored to medical conditions. Henry Ford also allows hospitalized patients to place meal orders from their room, enabling them to choose tasty, healthy foods whenever they want. This makes getting good food convenient for patients while reducing food waste.###

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