Meridian Health Joins National Hospital Healthy Food Initiative

Contact:Robert Cavanaugh, Manager of Public Affairs for Meridian Health
Phone:(732) 751-3451

Meridian Health Joins National Hospital Healthy Food Initiative

Meridian Health joins the Partnership for a Healthier America to make the healthy choice the easy choice with new meal and snack offerings focusing on good nutrition

Meridian Health is committed to increasing healthy food options offered in its facilities, which serves thousands of meals to patients, visitors and team members daily. The Hospital Healthy Food Initiative is a growing effort of hospitals, health care systems and health care food service providers to enhance onsite food offerings through a commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA). PHA works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to end the childhood obesity epidemic in a generation.

"As centers of health in our communities, we believe in setting a good example by serving nutritious foods in our facilities that promote health and healing," said Sherrie String, senior vice president of human Resources, Meridian Health. "This effort is an extension of our ongoing commitment to quality care across our system, and we are extremely proud to join Partnership for a Healthier America's Hospital Healthy Food initiative."

Meridian Health is the only New Jersey-based health care system to join the Initiative. Over the next three years, Meridian Health will incorporate changes so that all meals and food items served in its facilities meet the standards of the initiative, which include:

. Wellness Meals- Offering a daily wellness meal that meets healthy nutrition standards and is priced less than or equal to other available meal options and increasing the number of wellness meals by one each year, up to a minimum of three.
. Children's Wellness Meal- Offering a daily children's wellness meal that meets healthy nutrition standards and is priced less than or equal to other available meal options.
. Overall Cafeteria Offerings - Ensuring that 60 percent of all a la carte entrees and side dishes meet nutrition standards.
. Healthy Check-Out - Displaying only health-promoting food options at and near cash register stations.
. Nutrition Labeling and Marketing - Labeling items with calories per serving by 2014, and displaying only health-promoting food options in advertising and menu materials.
. Food Preparation - Removing all fryers and deep fat-fried products.
. Fruits and Vegetables - Increasing the percentage of fruits and vegetables purchased by the hospital by 20 percent annually or ensuring that fruits and vegetables account for at least 10 percent of total food purchased by the hospital.
. Beverages - Increasing the percentage of better-for-you beverages purchased by the hospital (e.g., water, 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice, unflavored milk, teas and coffee) to 80 percent of overall beverage purchases. Additionally, there will be tap water available where possible.

Every organization that works with PHA agrees that a third-party organization will monitor and report on progress toward its commitment. These commitments are verified and reported on in PHA's annual report, which is released each spring.

About Meridian Health
Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and outpatient centers. Meridian Health has consistently been rated among the top performing health systems in New Jersey for clinical quality, is one of the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" for five years in a row, and is the recipient of numerous state and national recognitions for patient care and nursing excellence. Recently, Meridian Health was the only health system in New Jersey to be ranked as one of the most Integrated Healthcare Systems in the nation according to SDI and Modern Healthcare Magazine. For more information, please visit

About Partnership for a Healthier America
Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation's youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with - but independent from - First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation's most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress its partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.