Rodale Institute and St. Luke’s University Health Network Partner to Provide Organic Produce to to Patients, Staff and Visitors


St. LukesBETHLEHEM TWP, Pa. (7/17/14) — St. Luke’s Anderson Campus, in partnership with Rodale Institute, is one of the few hospitals in the nation to offer patients organic produce grown at an organic farm located on the hospital campus, the partners announced today.  In addition, organic produce is now available to the employees, visitors and caregivers to offer healthy options for health and healing through the hospital’s food services vendor, Sodexo Inc.

“Working with the Rodale Institute to develop an organic, working farm onsite will allow St. Luke’s to continue providing patients with a holistic health care experience that creates a positive atmosphere for health and healing,” said Ed Nawrocki, President, St. Luke’s Anderson Campus. “By providing patients with locally-grown organic produce, St. Luke’s is showing a commitment to the environment and promoting the health of its patients and the community.”

The farm at St. Luke’s will allow the network to raise community awareness about the importance of healthy eating and the impact of food choices on overall health and well-being.

“Numerous studies prove that organic fruits and vegetables offer many advantages over conventionally-grown foods, such as: increased amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which reduce incidence of heart disease and some cancers; and a lowered risk of common conditions such as cancer, heart disease, allergies and hyperactivity in children,” said Bonnie Coyle, MD, MS, Director of Community Health, St. Luke’s University Health Network.

Rodale Institute has developed a five acre tract into a produce farm on the 500 acre St. Luke’s Anderson Campus. St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm will offer organically grown local produce that will be distributed to all six St. Luke’s  hospitals to be used in daily food preparation by Sodexo Inc. for patients, as well as offered in the hospital cafeterias for staff and visitors.

As part of the partnership, Rodale Institute has provided St. Luke’s University Health Network with Lynn Trizna, an onsite organic vegetable farmer, to ensure the quality of the farm’s produce, follow organic farming practices and coordinate the produce deliveries with Sodexo for the St. Luke’s hospitals. Trizna is also responsible for transitioning the land to organic and overseeing the organic certification process with the USDA.

“Through the partnership between St. Luke’s University Health Network and the Rodale Institute, the farm will accomplish what was thought previously impossible, growing organic and nutritious food on site for hospital patients,” said Trizna. “The farm will act as an evolving model for institutions across the country as well as for farmers who have the knowledge but lack the resources to start their own farm. St. Luke’s Anderson Campus and the Rodale Institute are ‘planting a seed’ in sustainable and local food production,” she said.

Planting at the St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm began this spring. Crops have already been harvested, said Trizna. The 1120 sq. ft. hoop house will provide an extended growing season, she said. St. Luke’s Auxiliary announced its support of the hoop house through fundraising efforts, and the hoop house was named after the Auxiliary.

“St. Luke’s Auxiliary is honored to support these efforts in providing a service to the community through organic produce farmed at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus,” said Kristina Warner, St. Luke’s Auxiliary President. “We are pleased to support the hoop house and this initiative allowing patients, staff and community members to make healthier eating choices and improve their lifestyle.”

The farm is equipped with refrigeration to store excess produce before it is transported to other locations. Some of the produce that will be planted at the farm includes lettuce and salad greens, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, Swiss chard, kale, garlic, cabbage, beets, potatoes and a wide variety of herbs.

During the first year, Rodale Institute expects to produce approximately 44,000 pounds of fresh produce on five acres. In the future, the farm is expected to double in size and is expected to produce nearly 100,000 pounds of produce, said “Coach” Mark Smallwood, Executive Director of Rodale Institute.

“In addition to providing patients, families and staff at the hospitals with fresh, organic produce, organic agriculture builds healthy soil,” said Smallwood. “Organic agriculture reduces pollution from run-off, prevents toxic chemicals from building up in our ecosystem and is a primary driver in carbon sequestration. This partnership presents a ‘farm to hospital’ model which can be replicated around the world. We’re proud to be proving concepts once thought impossible.”

For more information about the St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Farm please visit www.sluhn.org/organicfarm.

Since its founding in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, the Rodale Institute has been committed to groundbreaking research in organic agriculture, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating people about how organic is the safest, healthiest option for people and the planet. The Institute is home to the Farming Systems Trial (FST), America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture. Consistent results from the study have shown that organic yields match or surpass those of conventional farming. In years of drought, organic corn yields are about 30 percent higher. New areas of study at the Rodale Institute include rates of carbon sequestration in chemical versus organic plots, new techniques for weed suppression and organic livestock.

St. Luke’s Anderson Campus is one of six hospitals in the St. Luke’s University Health Network and is Pennsylvania’s newest, full-service health care facility. The campus is set against a serene, natural landscape conveniently located on Freemansburg Avenue, right off of Route 33.  State-of-the-art medical and surgical services are offered in three adjacent buildings – the main Hospital, the Medical Office Building and the Cancer Center.  Since the hospital’s opening in 2011, the campus has added walking paths, flower gardens and most recently employee community garden plots to develop the surrounding land in healthy, innovative and creative ways.  St. Luke’s University Health Network is a non-profit, regional, fully integrated and nationally recognized network providing services at more than 150 sites.  The network is the second largest employer in the Lehigh Valley region.

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