What is Farm to School?

Farm to School is a nation-wide program that provides early childhood education to cultivate healthy eating habits by exposing children to healthy local foods, cooking lessons, taste tests, gardening, field trips, and more.

Farm to School is a key strategy for early childhood development for two reasons: Health and high-quality learning. Well-nourished children are able to function better in school during a critical stage in their development.

Gundersen Health System is an active member of the Farm to School program.  Gundersen’s Certified Executive Chef Thomas Sacksteder supports the local program by visiting schools to educate students on healthy eating habits. The program also includes a “Harvest of the Month,” in which one local food is selected and promoted throughout the school system. Chef Thomas uses the “Harvest of the Month” in the recipes he showcases to students, and it is then served in the school cafeterias.

Grants received from the “Chefs Move to Schools” program have enabled Chef Thomas to continue to teach children about healthy food in a fun and appealing way.  Watch Chef’s Farm to School education assembly at a local school.

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How does the Farm to School program relate to sustainability? Food purchased from local farmers does not travel as far to reach point of sale, which in turn saves energy and reduces fossil fuel emissions. Buying local also supports the local economy.

Get involved! The Farm to School program exists in all states. If you or your organization is interested in helping children learn to eat healthy, check out the National Farm to School Network.

For more information on Gundersen’s sustainability programs, visit gundersenenvision.org.

Walk, ride, share for cleaner air

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Champion a Walk, Ride, Share for Cleaner Air employee challenge at your work place and start making a difference today!

Gundersen Health System’s Walk, Ride, Share for Cleaner Air commuting challenge gives staff incentives for biking, car-pooling, taking the bus or walking to work. Each month through the end of August, employees who participate in the challenge have a chance to win gift cards and other great prizes.

Active and alternative commuting not only promotes a healthy lifestyle, it helps reduce greenhouse emissions, which can cause illness and disease such as cancer, asthma, cardiac, and reproductive problems.

Active/alternative commuting options

  • Walking
  • Bicycle riding
  • Car pooling
  • Using mass transit transportation
  • Any other travel without driving yourself (rollerblading, skateboarding)

 

It’s OK if you are not able to actively or alternatively commute every day. Do it as often as you are able.

Start your challenge today!

Learn more about reducing energy consumption and greenhouse emissions from the environmental leaders at Envision.

Patients engage in rooftop garden planting project

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Gundersen’s Envision program not only impacts Gundersen employees but also Gundersen patients and the greater community.  Recently Envision started selling Udderly Green Organic Compost and Potting Mix in collaboration with Purple Cow Organics at Ace of La Crosse.  These products are made with plant fiber byproduct from Envision’s dairy digesters located in Wisconsin.

Originally intended as an employee engagement project, these products gave employees and community members the opportunity to learn more about the Envision program and the dairy digester projects. However, staff working in the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Gundersen saw these products as a way to engage the long stay patients in healthy and fun outdoor activities.

Pictured above is a patient planting vegetables on the rooftop garden at the hospital using the Envision potting mix with assistance from Courtney Hoeg, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).  Chef Thomas Sacksteder assists the patients in the fall season with harvesting and preparing the vegetables.  If you are interested in learning more about Envision, see the following website: www.gundersenenvision.org.

Walk, ride, share for cleaner air

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Active commuting encourages people to get physically active on a regular basis and to reduce greenhouse emissions and traffic congestion by actively or alternatively commuting. In addition, reducing energy consumption will help prevent illness by reducing environmental factors linked to diseases (cancer, respiratory, asthma, reproductive, cardiac).

Active/alternative commuting includes:

  • Walking
  • Bicycle riding
  • Car pooling
  • Using mass transit transportation
  • Any other travel without driving yourself (rollerblading, skateboarding. Have fun and get creative.)

Safety Tips
Follow the Rules of the Road – As appropriate – obey all traffic signs, signal and watch for traffic at intersections, cross at crosswalks, do not exceed speed limit, wear seat belt at all times, ride with traffic (bike, car), walk against traffic or use sidewalk when available, use proper lane position, etc.

Wear appropriate attire to be visible and safe – As appropriate – wear helmet, protective equipment (bike, rollerblade), be visible-wear bright clothing or reflective clothing, wear lights on person or bike, wear comfortable shoes, wear seat belt (car, bus if applicable), use rain gear as appropriate-poncho, umbrella, fenders, etc.

Be alert and aware of surroundings – As appropriate – do not use ear buds or listen to loud radio, do not talk or text on cell phone, monitor surroundings for potential dangers – environmental lighting, uneven terrain, road conditions, etc.

Safety inspection of your mode of transportation – As appropriate – secure cargo, ensure proper tire inflation, ensure mechanical items in good working condition – brakes, chains, belts, lights, turn signals, etc. Shoes in good working condition (not excessively worn, protecting feet from hazards), laces secured, etc.

Champion a Walk, Ride, Share for Cleaner Air employee challenge at your work place and start making a difference today!

Learn more about reducing energy consumption and greenhouse emissions from the environmental leaders at Envision.

Calculate your carbon footprint

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Carbon emissions calculators can help you discover your family’s carbon footprint and opportunities to reduce it and save money.  The first step in any energy management program or journey is to understand where you are starting from so you can see where your opportunities for improvement are.

Here are two carbon/greenhouse gas emissions calculators to help you get started.

http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/index.htm

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/ind-calculator.html

The federal government’s Energy Star program is a great tool for improving your energy efficiency and saving money at home.  This website can be very helpful with tips and resources to assist you. http://www.energystar.gov/

For other helpful resources on environmental stewardship visit Gundersen Envision’s website.

Envision featured in Modern Healthcare article

Gundersen Health System’s Envision program was featured in an article in the June 13 issue of Modern Healthcare magazine. The article focused on the effects of climate change on health and how to reduce its impact. In it, Mark Platt, Senior Vice President of Business Operations at Gundersen was quoted as saying, “Gundersen CEO Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s decision in 2008 to pursue renewable energy production was not universally popular at the time and the climate change message continues to get some pushback. Our CEO didn’t say he was taking on climate change, he said our mission is the health and well-being of our community, and how we produce power causes pollution and pollution causes health problems.”

In April, Gundersen joined Health Care Without Harm’s 2020 Healthcare Climate Challenge, an international effort to reduce healthcare’s carbon footprint and protect the public health from climate change.

Read the entire article.

Going up? Take the stairs

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Taking the elevator every day is easy and requires hardly any energy…at least not on your behalf. However, taking the elevator should not become part of your everyday routine, especially if you are capable of taking the stairs. Not someone who exercises regularly? That is perfectly fine! To start, try incorporating the stairs into your daily routine at least once a day, or possibly twice a week to start and then progressively start to use them more often. What are some of the benefits you will notice once you start taking the stairs?

  • Taking the stairs challenges your muscles. Over time you will begin to notice your legs becoming more toned and your leg muscles increasing in strength.
  • The small steps add up! Taking the stairs everyday will help to improve your overall health.
  • Taking the stairs is good for your heart! It will help lower bad Cholesterol and increase “good” cholesterol.
  • There is no cost and you can take the stairs as often as you like.
  • You could be a positive example for your coworkers, family members and even your friends.
  • Reduce stress and tension and build up your energy.

How can you make this happen? Start to slowly incorporate stairs into your daily routine—make it become a natural part of your day. If you want to inspire others to take the stairs with you, advocate getting signs put up between the stairs and the elevators (otherwise known as the decision point or the place where you decide which to take). Use the signs to encourage people to take the stairs or inform them of the health benefits. If you are trying to get the most out of your stair workout, remember to take the stairs one step at a time because it will burn more calories than if you were to skip steps. Not only will taking the stairs provide you with health benefits, but you will also be saving energy by not taking the elevator. Although the energy saved will be minimal, if everyone were to take the stairs it would make a huge impact on energy savings. So make a positive impact in your life and try the stairs!

Go to www.gundersenenvision.org to learn more about energy conservation and environmental leadership.