Having healthy food options readily available in a community reduces a variety of public health concerns, including chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and in turn lessens avoidable healthcare costs and utilization for patients and hospitals. Montefiore Health System is located in one of the least healthy of the state’s 62 counties. To improve availability and access to healthy foods in communities where its patients and associates live, the Montefiore Healthy Food Initiative aimed to increase the availability and demand for healthier foods, while reducing the promotion and availability of less-healthful options.
Montefiore’s Office of Community and Population Health used data to “hotspot” the communities that would most benefit from the initiative. It then worked with stakeholders along the continuum of food distribution, marketing and consumption. The team disseminated a community-informed healthy food marketing campaign. Montefiore also recruited partner groups to become “bodega buddies” with local stores to advocate for the stocking and promotion of healthier items and serve as agents for change in their communities.
Results included a significant decrease in sugary drink consumption and more stores carrying healthier items. Now 41% of youth (grades 9-12) report drinking one or more sugary drinks in the past seven days, compared to 62.1% in 2007. The team observed an increased availability of canned fruit in 100% juice/light syrup (50% to 88%), fresh ready-to-eat fruits (0% to 25%) and dried fruit (38% to 63%) from baseline to follow-up assessment.
For this successful program, Montefiore was recognized with HANYS’ 2019 Community Health Improvement Award. Watch our video for a more in-depth look at Montefiore’s award-winning Healthy Food Initiative and its results.
For more information, contact Liz Spurrell-Huss, senior project manager, at (347) 418-4736 or firstname.lastname@example.org.