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Advancing Health Equity: What It Means, Why it’s Important, and How Morrison Leads the Charge

An Interview with Lisa Roberson, National Director, Wellness and Sustainability at Morrison Healthcare

What does it mean— to advance Health Equity? 

Health equity means increasing opportunities for everyone to live their healthiest life. Health equity is achieved when everyone can attain their full potential for health and well-being.

Why partner with MHC as part of a health equity strategy?

Our team helps our hospital partners clearly define the tactics and metrics for executing your unique hospital vision for addressing social determinants of health in your community.  We support this vision through a collaborative approach of improving access to nutrition, food, and educational services and by enhancing the impact our operations have on social, economic and environmental systems.

How does MHC directly impact health equity?

We have three main areas of focus: First, we help you transform your food environments by aligning our foodservice programming to support your population health goals. Our second area of focus involves our purchasing strategy as it relates to building a network of diverse suppliers and supporting local and sustainable purchasing.  And 3rd, we help impact the broader community outside of the hospital walls by carefully identifying barriers and bridging solutions to improve nutrition security and provide food is medicine solutions.

How can MHC transform a food environment?

Our Wellpower Certification provides a data-driven framework to empower health systems to set achievable goals–such as increasing availability & access of healthy options or using choice architecture to create an environment that nudges customers towards healthier selections. Our team conducts baseline wellness assessments to establish the current availability of healthy offerings while also identifying opportunities, gaps, and barriers to creating healthy food environments.  Once data is collected and analyzed, we partner with our hospital stakeholders to establish mutual population health, sustainability, and health equity goals for the system.

With our Food as Medicine programming, we can go even further, providing medically tailored meals, or establishing food pantries that help promote food security in the community.

How does MHC use its purchasing strategy to promote health equity?

Building health equity in purchasing begins with certified diverse suppliers. Compass Group identifies and sources business opportunities with small, minority, women, disabled, and veteran-owned businesses while increasing opportunities for regional BIPOC farmers through our Diverse Supplier Acceleration Program. (*BIPOC = black, indigenous, people of color)

We don’t often think of hospital food being locally sourced, or sustainable. 

We are rethinking what has been done before in a hospital setting. The inclusion of local suppliers and sustainably sourced and raised foods and ingredients into our purchasing strategy helps us drive innovation and discover new markets to support, which in turn expands economic opportunities for the community.

How can a FANS service provider impact health outside of the hospital?

Improving education and access is critical. Our Teaching Kitchen platform strengthens nutritional knowledge and provides enriching culinary experiences through hands-on learning activities targeted to your community’s needs. We have expanded our Nutrition Education and Telehealth programs to provide comprehensive nutrition and risk assessment resources designed to ensure safe, high-quality transition of care, prevent hospital readmission and reduce other adverse health events. And by addressing food insecurity, we can further advance health equity after a patient is discharged through local donation partners, food pantries and food pharmacies.

Diverse Supplier Education Program

In 2021, the supplier diversity team at Foodbuy, our GPO, amplified efforts to highlight diverse owned businesses by creating the Diverse Supplier Accelerator Program. This 9-month program aims to grow successful, diverse enterprises through education sessions, networking events, and mentorship programming. Roughly 10 suppliers are selected and spend the early months of the program developing and activating growth plans with assistance from this network. For the remainder of the program, the businesses execute these plans while the Foodbuy team provides coaching and tracks progress. To learn more click here.

View Morrison Healthcare’s Food, Nutrition & Sustainability Commitment here.

More Transparency. Better Results.

As your strategic partner, we embrace creative and innovative opportunities to support your goals and help you reduce the cost of care. Having a partner that can balance resources with unmatched purchasing power will accelerate your organization’s transformational journey.

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