The Balanced Menus Challenge (BMC) is a national effort to bring the healthiest, most sustainably produced meat available into health-care settings to preserve antibiotic effectiveness and promote good nutrition. The present study evaluated the outcomes of the BMC in the Maryland/Washington, DC region.
The BMC is a cost-effective programme whereby participating hospitals reduce meat purchases by 20 % of their budget, then invest the savings into purchasing sustainably produced meat. A mixed-methods retrospective assessment was conducted to assess (i) utilization of the BMC ‘implementation toolkit’ and (ii) achievement of the 20 % reduction in meat purchases. Previous survey data were reviewed and semi-structured interviews were conducted.
Hospitals located in the Maryland/Washington, DC region, USA, that adopted the BMC.
Twelve hospitals signed the BMC in the Maryland/Washington, DC region and six were available for interview.
Three hospitals in the Maryland/Washington, DC region that signed the BMC tracked their progress and two achieved a reduction in meat procurement by ≥20 %. One hospital demonstrated that the final outcome goal of switching to a local and sustainable source for meat is possible to achieve, at least for a portion of the meal budget. The three hospitals that reduced meat purchases also received and used the highest number of BMC implementation tools. There was a positive correlation between receipt and usage of implementation tools (r=0·93, P=0·005).
The study demonstrates that hospitals in the Maryland/Washington, DC region that sign the BMC can increase the amount of sustainably produced meat purchased and served.