Baystate Medical Center to Participate in Food Day Oct. 24

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Medical Center will join Americans from all 50 states who will celebrate the fourth annual Food Day on Saturday, Oct. 24 by participating in special food events throughout the month in celebration of healthy, affordable, local, and sustainable food.

This year’s theme is “Toward a Greener Diet.” The typical American diet contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems, costing Americans more than $150 billion per year. Plus, a meat-heavy diet takes a toll on the environment. According to Nancy Robinson, director of Patient and Guest Services for Baystate Health, Food Day is an opportunity for Baystate Medical Center to promote and showcase its efforts to support fresh, locally grown ingredients and its role in support of healthier, sustainable practices.

“We have adopted pledges from the Mass. Hospital Assoc. and HealthCare Without Harm to increase our purchases of local foods and antibiotic-free meats,” Robinson said. “As a result, we have increased our local produce and dairy purchases from 6{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} to 44{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of our total purchases in peak season, and greater than 20{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} in the winter months. We have also reduced our sales of sugared beverages by 35{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} by offering alternatives that customers like. And we are working collaboratively with our suppliers to increase the availability of antibiotic-free meats that we purchase.”

The hospital has also partnered with UMass Amherst in planning Food Day activities, she added. “We anticipate this will be the first of other collaborations with them. The health of our communities and environment is a constant point of focus for us and provides direction as we develop new concepts. Participating in our second Food Day helps us to educate and inspire others in their efforts to improve their diets and to buy local. We are committed to the good health of our communities.”

Each Thursday in October, chefs in the Baystate kitchen are preparing a healthy soup or entrée made using locally grown produce for purchase by visitors, patients, and staff in the hospital’s Daly Building cafeteria. Also, on Thursday, Oct. 22, dietitians will staff a table in the North Café from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where they will share information about the national movement to celebrate healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. They will also be giving away local apples, recipes, and information on preserving foods for the winter.

“Americans are not known for their healthy eating habits, contributing to the obesity epidemic, as well as diabetes, heart disease, and many other health problems,” noted Paula Serafino-Cross, a clinical dietitian in Food and Nutrition Services at Baystate Medical Center. “A healthy eating plan includes eating ‘closer to the ground,’ with more local fruits and vegetables and cooking from scratch when possible.”

She added that healthy eating needs to be combined with eating smaller portions to maintain a healthy weight. To encourage healthy eating, she said anyone visiting the dietitians’ table in the cafeteria will be eligible for a free raffle to win a winter share of vegetables from Mountain View Farms in Easthampton.

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