• Lorna C.

Balanced Checks Out a City Poised for Food System Reform: Rochester, NY



Each time we ask for suggestions about ways we could improve our work, who we need to know, or where we need to go, our supporters step up and let us know what they want and where they need us to be. In large part because of our supporters, Balanced traveled to Rochester, NY this past week. Hundreds of physicians, educators and students have reached out to us from this city asking us to help them improve their school and hospital menus, and we just had to see the great work they're doing firsthand!


In an effort to better understand how to support and empower the people asking for change in Rochester, I boarded a plane headed east! The first among many stops with was to meet a physician currently working at a hospital in the city. Her goal: healthier menus for patients and guests. Something we can definitely get behind!


This the problem we're all trying to solve! Disease-causing foods have no place in hospitals.

Like many doctors, she is passionate about ensuring that  hospital systems optimize health, to decrease diet-related illnesses and increase life expectancies-- which is one of our greatest challenges to tackle in medicine today.


With enormous humility and admiration, I learned how she has gone above and beyond her call of duty, worked directly with the hospital’s food service director and offered everything from sample menus, in-house food tastings and evidence-based support for the changes.


When I asked what inspires her and keeps her motivated, she notes, [we] “haven’t set up the systems that allow people to be healthy.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Additional meetings with other thought leaders in the community increasingly highlighted the miraculous shift happening in Rochester towards creating healthy food systems. Not only are both hospitals systems having open conversations about changing menus, but the school districts are also empowering local teachers to pilot programs for personnel. Next up: the food on the trays in the cafeteria.


Rochester appears to be unique in that there is a huge network of influential people coming together on a regular basis to celebrate the benefits of eating more plants. There is even an entire Lifestyle Medicine Clinic dedicated to educating and leading people through a healthy and safe transition to a plant-based diets. People of all ages and in all stages of discovering healthy eating are stepping up in Rochester to ask for change.


This is exactly where Balanced can help! In the coming months, we will continue to work with these community leaders and institutions to ask for healthy menu changes. This means removing known disease-causing foods and replacing them with health-promoting fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.


We can’t wait to see Rochester optimize their menus in schools and hospitals so that their children and families alike can also optimize their health.


Want Balanced to hear about your city? Drop me a line: Lornac@balanced.org

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