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Food for the body and soul

By The Health News Team | March 29, 2021
Food for the body and soul

The saying “you are what you eat” may be true. What’s on your plate — along with lifestyle choices, physical activity, genetics and environment — has the power to affect your overall health.

In 2011, Sharp HealthCare joined the Nutrition and Healthcare Leadership Team (NHLT) to further its commitment to providing sustainable, accessible, nutritious food for patients, visitors and staff.

The mission of the NHLT is to provide healthy, sustainable food practices in San Diego health care systems. These efforts are a part of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative — a national campaign to address the health and environmental impacts of the health care sector.

The Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP) — an organization that strives to bring diverse groups together to address critical health issues — facilitates the NHLT. Currently, approximately 8 hospitals and health systems across San Diego County volunteer to participate.

“The team provides San diego County healthcare systems the opportunity to advance healthful, sustainable food and beverages practices through collaboration," says Dane Peterson, program coordinator at CHIP.

Sharp has developed several practices to provide high-quality, nourishing food, including:

  • Meatless Mondays to reduce meat consumption

  • Increasing sustainable protein purchases such as antibiotic-free, grass-fed and hormone-free meats; cage-free eggs; and sustainable seafood

  • Buying local, seasonal and sustainable food and increasing purchases from local farms

  • Increasing access to local fresh fruits and vegetables with hospital gardens, farmers market, community supported agriculture programs

  • Stocking healthy food and beverage choices in vending machines

  • Providing patients and guests with access to fresh, healthy food at any time of the day with Pantry Retail’s grab-and-go kiosks

  • Collaborating with Sharp Best Health to reduce consumption of sugary beverages

  • Wellness-focused patient and cafeteria menus

"In addition to creating heart healthy menus across the board and offering other menus that target a specific patient's diet, we have developed the Nourish menu," says Julian Cervantes, executive chef at Sharp Memorial Hospital and Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns. "Our Nourish menus are research-based and include ingredients because it combines my passion for culinary arts and helping people."

Meals on the patient menu not only focus on the wellness of the body, but also the mind. There are meals that provide emotional nourishment — such as foods connected to heritage, a region of the world or a certain holiday. These types of foods can bring back positive memories and evoke comfort, joy and peace.

According to Laura Harkin, food operations manager at Sharp Memorial Hospital and Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, food is a significant part of wellness, saying that eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is important for the healing process.


Greg Young


Executive chef Greg Young oversees meal services at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, Sharp Memorial Hospital and Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital.

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