Hospitals as Anchor Institutions: Eco-Systemic Leadership to Nourish Patient, Community, and Planetary Health

Authors: Cheryl Hsu, Hayley Lapalme

Nourish has been a three year experiment in collaboration to leverage the healthcare sector’s influence for transformative change in sustainable food systems and wellbeing. It aims to leverage the influence of the sector as a big public purchaser of food and by tapping into the sector’s reputational credibility in markets and in civil society. Currently, Nourish aspires to scale its impact by transitioning from a person to place3 based approach to organizing for systems change. Similar to Ezio Manzini’s concept of cosmopolitan localism, the approach seeks to build more resilient local place3based economies and systems, while holding the learnings as a way to connect learnings across the country. By taking an anchor institution approach, which recognizes hospitals as rooted in their local communities that can leverage “economic, human, intellectual and institutional resources” (Democracy Collaborative), the program is evolving from helping people who are disempowered in a system to claim their power to empowering whole3of3organization anchor institutions that act in the interest of developing local health and wealth within their communities.

This paper presents the systemic learnings over the past three years about the food3health system and presents the shift in strategy and form that accompanies a shift in the scale of impact that Nourish aspires to have. Activating these networks requires enhancing the capacity for health care institutions to work and collaborate beyond the walls of the hospital, and to design for impacts on the social determinants of health within their communities.

Posted: Oct-2019

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