HANCOCK – A widespread health issue is being faced head on at Portage Health, which recently joined a statewide movement called Healthy Food Hospitals.
The movement is aimed to help Michiganders eat better in an effort to fight Michigan’s obesity crisis.
“We believe in quality, not only in terms of patient care, but also in the nutritional value of food served to everyone who walks through our doors,” said Jim Bogan, president and CEO. “This initiative will benefit our patients, visitors and employees.”
Currently the Portage Health food services department serves 8,850 meals monthly, and Mark Pittillo, director of food services, said he and his staff are already doing many of the things that the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, which started the campaign, is asking.
“I believe in quality food options for our patrons,” said Pittillo. “Not just in terms of taste, but also satisfying the need for people to eat healthy.”
By participating, the hospital is aiming to get a four star rating, which is the highest possible mark. The rating can be earned by improving default menus when it comes to nutritional value of food and beverages, adding nutritional content labels to café and menu items, and committing to using food grown and produced in Michigan.
“These are positive steps not only for Portage Health, but for the entire community,” said Pittillo.
Michigan is the 10th most overweight state in the country, with 29.4 percent of adults obese. According to the Healthy Michigan, Healthy Kids initiative from the Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan’s annual medical costs associated with obesity total more than $3 billion.