Overlook Medical Center is committed to making our communities among the healthiest in the nation, and that extends to the foods we eat. “‘Farm-to-table’ has become a catchphrase for putting locally sourced fresh foods onto our plates, and that comes in many shapes and sizes,” says Michael Atanasio, manager of food and nutrition for Overlook Medical Center. At Overlook, we’re doing this in a variety of ways.
Overlook donated property to develop a community garden for Summit residents. We manage two of the 48 plots of land. This year, the hospital grew tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, cucumbers and herbs. Some of it is used in the hospital, but the majority of what we reap is donated to local food pantries, Atanasio reports. “We’re able to reach a population that would not have access to these foods otherwise,” he says. “By feeding people, we’re affecting our communities in a very profound way.”
We joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) program to help our employees click into the farm-to-table movement. Alstede Farms, in Chester, delivers fresh produce to the hospital every week, making it easy for employees to grab a box and go. In addition, we partnered with Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills to refurbish chicken coops there, so fresh eggs are available to employees.
Look for the logo. If you spot an “Overlook Fresh!” sticker, you can be sure that part of what you’re eating comes from our very own garden. “Path Proven” cards identify the farm from which foods were purchased. “These logos help to close the loop,” says Atanasio. “When you go to the store, you usually don’t know where your food came from. But when you do know, it helps you make better choices.”
Green Is Always in Season
Practice Greenhealth, a health care community that empowers members to increase their efficiencies and environmental stewardship while improving patient safety and care, awarded Overlook the 2017 Greenhealth Emerald Award and the Greening the OR Recognition Award. The Greening the OR Recognition Award recognizes facilities that demonstrate the most success in reducing the environmental impact of their surgical suites. The Greenhealth Emerald Award recognizes the very best of the Greenhealth Partner for Change award applicants. Practice Greenhealth presents this very competitive award to applicants that truly set the standards for eliminating mercury, reducing waste, and recycling in the health care sector.
Have You Heard the Buzz?
Overlook is doing its part to save the honeybee. You may have heard that the busy bees – which are credited with pollinating as much as one-third of the food supply – have been dying off in recent years. But the hospital is home to a booming apiary of six hives, where honeybees (approximately 30,000 per hive) are busy doing their thing: churning out honey.
That honey is then harvested by professional beekeepers, and put to good use. Some of it is used by Overlook’s Food Services Department for cooking; other quantities are packaged for sale in the hospital and to local restaurants, and the beeswax is used to make lip balms and lotions that are sold in the Gift Shop. Any money generated from sales comes back to the hospital to offset the cost of maintaining the hives, says Atanasio. The bees also are busy being ambassadors of good health. Through the Bee Healthy program, local children visit the apiary and learn about honeybees.