Rx For Good Health Includes Locally Grown Foods at Marin General Hospital

GREENBRAE, CA — While the benefits of healthy eating have long been recognized as critical for recovering patients, Marin General Hospital is expanding its nutrition program – one that already includes locally grown and organic produce and dairy – for patients, employees and visitors. Helping lead the new effort is Martin Godinez, executive chef, who recently joined Marin General Hospital, which has been among the first San Francisco Bay Area hospitals to go “locavore.”

The hospital’s food and nutrition program has embarked on a new program with Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) to expand its local food offerings throughout its menus. AIM’s “Farm to Fork” program educates the community and encourages schools, institutions, food service programs and businesses to buy directly from local producers and farmers. Fresh fruits and vegetables initially were supplied by Veritable Vegetable, while dairy products were provided by the Straus Family Creamery, both based in the Bay Area. Other suppliers have since been added to the hospital’s program.

Michel Rossano, director of food and clinical nutrition, Marin General Hospital, is focused on providing sustainable and organically grown foods whenever possible for patients, staff and visitors. A key component to the hospital’s program also is to support local suppliers, as part of the community.

“We always have aimed to offer the widest array of fresh and healthy foods,” says Rossano. “We want to eliminate the stigma behind hospital food. Medicine in the future will start with a healthy diet, especially to avoid and combat chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol.”

Part of the impetus for the program came from Rossano herself, who personally favors an organic diet without the chemicals and pesticides found in conventional foods. Believing in the notion that “you are what you eat,” Rossano has found this approach to food can help people sleep well and stabilize their weight.

Working with Godinez, who has served as executive chef for Sodexo, Rossano looks to provide more organic menu items – including chicken, beef and fish – for patients in the coming months. Marin General Hospital already uses Straus’ organic milk and other dairy products in the hospital’s Espresso Bar and Café, as well as yogurt and butter products, and eggnog for the holidays.

During the prime growing months, local fresh organic produce – such as strawberries, spinach and lettuce – is featured at Marin General Hospital in patient meals, in sandwiches and salads available in the hospital’s dining facilities and in food to go. The hospital’s registered dieticians consult daily with patients on their food needs, selections and special requests. Other organic food providers supplement available choices year-round.

About Marin Agricultural Institute
Agricultural Institute of Marin is a 501(c)3 non-profit which runs eight farmers markets in the Bay Area. For 28 years, AIM has been bringing farmers and communities together to create healthy viable local food systems.