New Milford Hospital’s Plow to Plate® Program
Created in response to astonishing upward trends in obesity and related diseases, Plow to Plate® is a program that advocates healthy food as a direct path to disease prevention while promoting the local agricultural economy. Plow to Plate delivers a fully integrated, healthful food service program to patients, staff and the community, using fresh produce from nine local farms.
Plow to Plate was born from the work of New Milford Hospital executives, area physicians, farmers and town officials, in collaboration with the hospital’s dining services partner, Unidine Corporation. The hospital itself became a model of change by transforming its Dining Services, eliminating processed and fried foods, and training kitchen staff to cook from scratch and procure local produce when possible.
The hospital adheres to the pledge of delivering a fully integrated, healthful food service program to patients, staff and community. Today, it uses fresh produce from nine local farms. And Plow to Plate has expanded to encompass important nutrition-based community programs including:
- The “Senior Suppers" program, where seniors can enjoy a healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner for $5
- The Youth Chef Advocates program, which teaches high school students about nutrition and cooking skills
- An information table at a weekly farmer’s market
- A Signature Dish Initiative, in which over 30 establishments serving food – including restaurants, markets, and schools – use menus and signs to communicate the importance of healthy food choices
A prime example of positive outcomes and community advocacy is a three-year study conducted by Plow to Plate cofounder Diane D'Isidori, MD, in collaboration with the United Way. To determine the effectiveness of sustainable health education, D'Isidori measured the body mass index (BMI) of 148 children age 4 who regularly visited her practice. Data was collected over a three-year period starting in 2012 ending in 2015, when the children were age 6.
In 2012, 13% of the enrollees were considered obese, with 24% considered at risk for obesity. In 2015, 9% of the enrollees were considered obese, with 19% considered at risk. This represents a decline of 4% and 5%, respectively, over three years of sustainable health education.
At its 2015 Annual Meeting, the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) recognized New Milford Hospital with a Connecticut's Hospital Community Service Award for the Plow to Plate program.