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From farm to hospital

Locally grown foods will be served in the cafeterias of 13 Maryland hospitals next week for the statewide 2014 Buy Local Challenge (BLC).

The Buy Local Challenge was created in 2007 by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission to highlight the economic and environmental benefits of buying local food.

Institutions and individuals who participate in the Challenge pledge to eat at least one thing from a local source every day during Buy Local Week, which runs from July 19 to July 27.

The hospitals participating this year are: Carroll Hospital Center, Frederick Memorial Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Laurel Regional Hospital, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, Meritus Medical Center, University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital, University of Maryland Medical Center, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, Union Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital and Western Maryland Health System.

The medical institutions were brought on board with help from the Chesapeake Food Leadership Council, which is an initiative of Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (a health care sustainability organization).

“Health care providers understand the importance of providing the freshest produce to their patients and employees while supporting local farmers and growing our regional food system and local economy,” Louise Mitchell, sustainable foods program manager for Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment, said in a statement.

The Buy Local Challenge has also been expanded to neighboring states.

Last year, 56 hospitals and nursing homes in the mid-Atlantic region served more than $53,500 worth of locally produced vegetables, fruit, beef, pork and poultry, according to BLC officials.