Garden-Fresh Food Options at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
On January 29, 2014, a weekly farmers market debuted at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Selling a variety of all-natural items, the market will be held on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is open exclusively to staff, patients and patient families.
“I thought about our role as a hospital in the fight against childhood obesity and realized that we have a responsibility to ‘practice what we preach’,” says Steven Mittelman, MD, PhD, director of the Diabetes and Obesity Program at The Saban Research Institute. “As stewards of the lives entrusted to us, it is our job to show our patients and families, and faculty and staff, that it is important to us to have fresh, healthy foods available.”
The farmers market is one of the many community outreach initiatives spearheaded by the Diabetes and Obesity Program. Since its inception in 2013, this program has established a multidisciplinary obesity clinic at the hospital, expanded the Kids N Fitness lifestyle intervention program to include younger children and started treating diabetes and obesity in underserved populations throughout Los Angeles.
“One of the barriers to healthy eating is access to healthy food choices. Farmers markets are a wonderful way to bring those healthy options to our patients, families, faculty and staff,” says Linda Heller, MS, RD, Manager of Clinical Nutrition and Lactation. “Without a doubt, food is one of the greatest pleasures of life and can be a means of bringing people and cultures together.”
The Diabetes and Obesity Program also provides a forum for clinician and researcher collaboration and development of treatments. As evidenced by the breadth of the Program initiatives, the elements necessary for defeating obesity—diet and activity—are largely influenced by our social and physical environment.
“We are one of the very few children’s hospitals offering a farmers market as part of our commitment to improving the health and wellness of children,” adds Brent Polk, MD, director of The Saban Research Institute. “From performing cutting-edge research to providing nutritious food options and areas for active play, we want to give patients and families unlimited access to the resources they need to make healthy decisions.”
“As the safety of our patients and visitors is our number one priority, a significant amount of planning and preparation was needed before launching this initiative,” adds Mittelman. “My thanks go to Linda Heller, MS, RD, Keith Hobbs, MBA, FACHE, Harleen Gill, and the Infection Prevention and Control Department whose hard work helped make this effort possible.”
Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s hospital on the West Coast and among the top five in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. Children’s Hospital is also one of America's premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.