Institute for a Sustainable Future
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Healthy Food and Food Systems


Healthy Food in Healthcare

ISF founded the Healthy Food in Health Care Initiative a national campaign of organizations working with healthcare to transform food systems in service of ecological health. This work is aimed at leveraging the moral authority and purchasing power of hospitals to support local, sustainable food systems. ISF educates health care and value chain audiences around local foods, sustainable supply chains and agriculture policy. ISF was represented on a Centers for Disease Control expert panel which prepared  guidance on healthy food environments in healthcare.This work includes presentations, policy briefs and advocacy with organizations such as the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, Kaiser Permanente, and American Dietetics Association.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Rebates

CSA membership helps increase the variety and consumption of vegetables. Across the country a variety of health insurance providers are including CSA's in their wellness initiatives and/or providing CSA rebates. Take our quick survey and show your interest in having CSA's included in your health insurance plan as a rebate or wellness offering!

Maine Health, Physicians Plus (WI)Health Tradition (MN, WI and IA) and HealthPartners (MN) are examples of health plans promoting CSAs and providing CSA rebates or including CSA's as part of their wellness initiative coverage.

Similarly, in the Western Lake Superior region, employers are working to promote employee health and the health of the regional farm economy by encouraging health plans to expand wellness rebates and incentives to include not only gym memberships,  but CSA memberships as well. click here for an example of a letter from an employer to an insurance provider encouraging a CSA Wellness Rebate/Benefit.  Please use this letter as a template to write your own letter to your insurance provider.  And, again, don't forget to take our survey!

For more information on how to choose a CSA and how they work visit the CSA Guild. This is the list of regional CSA's currently participating in the CSA wellness initiative.

Commons Health Hospital Challenge

Sugar Sweetened Beverages Phase-out,

First Food and Baby Friendly Hospitals and

Local Food Commitment


Each of these issues is supported by a host of medical, nursing and public health organization resolutions. This work aims to bring an awareness of the multiple benefits to communities through support of these three goals. Inherent in this effort is the recognition that hospitals are essential to providing the example to businesses, schools and workplaces but that the responsibility for the health of our community, is one that shared by all. For more information, to see the many hospitals that have accomplished these goals and to add your name in support visit the Hospital Challenge website.  


ISF worked with and developed a case study of Fairview Hospital, MA, the first hospital in the USA to eliminate the sale of SSBs.

Resilient Regional Food Systems

ISF actively supports the Lake Superior Good Food Charter and the Superior Compact, a 20% by 2020 local purchasing commitment by restaurants, grocers, hospitals, universities and colleges.

For a list of those signed on to the Superior Compact, see here.


ISF has conducted volunatry audits of area restaurants including a Duluth Grill Local Food Audit which benchmarked local purchasing at 26%. 


See ISF's recent " A 20% by 2020 Local Purchasing Toolkit (pdf)" designed to support those businesses interested in supporting a bioregional food system.  

Metrics and Benchmarks

ISF developed and provides guidance of the Green Guide for Health Care Food Credits (PDF) the nation's only self certifying metric for sustainable food service procurement and operation.


ISF provides training on benchmarking and food system metrics. See the Duluth Grill Local Purchasing Toolkit, which benchmarked the Duluth Grill at 26% Local Purchases.

St. Lukes' CEO, John Strange, Signs Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge
October, 2014 -  Carlton County Commissioners support CSA health plan rebates for their employees in letter to BCBS.
April 8, 2014 Northland News Report outlines local food support by restaurants and institutions.  Click here to read the article and view the news video.

New Report - Northland Local Purchasing

A 20% by 2020 Local Purchasing Toolkit - A Report to Support Local Food Purchasing (pdf) includes the first regional directory of producers currently supplying the largest institutions and restaurants in our region. The report is intended to support regional restaurants, hospitals and universities market their commitment to local foods, and support regional producers and food businesses.   
Local Food Reports
In  2013, ISF helped the Duluth Grill Benchmark its local purchasing. The results and methodology are included in the " Duluth Grill Local Purchasing Audit" (pdf). The report benchmarked purchasing at 26% local, as defined by the Superior Compact Bioregion