The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has been recognized by the South Carolina Hospital Association and NC Prevention Partners for providing the highest standard of excellence for the healthy food environments offered to employees, patients and visitors. Hospitals receiving this acknowledgment are considered Gold Apple Hospitals as a part of the Working Well initiative. They join only three other SC hospitals in receiving this prestigious award. Funded by The Duke Endowment, informed by NC Prevention Partners’ success in developing infrastructure for effective worksite wellness programs in North Carolina, and managed by the SC Hospital Association, Working Well is an effort to improve the health of hospital employees across the state of South Carolina by creating worksite wellness environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice.
In order to receive this recognition, MUSC addressed several aspects of how they provide, price, and market healthy food options, as recommended by NC Prevention Partners. MUSC worked with their food management company, Sodexo, to provide healthy options at every station and to post nutrition information for all items in the cafeteria. Fresh, local produce is available through weekly farmers markets held on campus as well as delivery service of locally sourced food and produce through Community Supported Agriculture programs. Healthy vending machines serving only all-natural, organic and preservative-free items have been installed in several buildings on campus and existing vending machines feature a “traffic lite” system to identify healthy choices. A 5 cent surcharge has been added to unhealthy items, with proceeds benefiting the MUSC Heart Health pediatric weight management program. Said MUSC President Ray Greenberg, “As a leader in health education in South Carolina, we feel a responsibility to create an environment in which people can learn about and pursue healthy eating. We appreciate this recognition and look forward to expanding our efforts in wellness and health promotion beyond our campus.”
Beyond the food environments, MUSC is also using education and benefits to support healthy behaviors. Newsletters, weekly columns in the MUSC newspaper, daily broadcast message tips, and Facebook provide information on healthy eating and special events. These special events include live cooking demos, “eat this, learn that” lunch and learn sessions, and coming in Spring 2012 the new MUSC Community Garden will be made available as a living classroom where a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown in South Carolina will be harvested for use by staff, faculty and the community. MUSC’s Nutrition Services website also offer educational resources and teaching opportunities to faculty and staff.
“Already recognized as a Working Well Center of Excellence, MUSC is once again proving their leadership in employee wellness,” said Jen Wright, Working Well Manager. This initiative and the Gold Apple recognition aren’t about taking away options; they’re about eliminating excuses and making it easier to choose health. MUSC has done this by providing increased access to healthy food while taking away the economic burden by making the healthy choice the less expensive one.”
Wright presented MUSC's executive leadership and members of their wellness team with the Gold Apple recognition on Thursday, March 1, 2012 during a celebration event at Noon.