Spend a day at Shawnee Mission Health and there’s a good chance you will witness CREATION Health in action. A faith-based wellness initiative, CREATION Health encourages associates, patients and visitors to embrace practices that lead to a happier, healthier life.

Although SMH focuses efforts on all areas of CREATION Health—Choice, Rest, Environment, Activity, Trust, Interpersonal Relationships, Outlook and Nutrition—it has recently placed special emphasis on using environmental stewardship to improve the lives of others.

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For example, Shawnee Mission Medical Center’s Nutrition Services is promoting health and wellness by committing to purchase food from local sources, implementing sustainable food service practices and using compostable materials. Holding high standards for their suppliers, SMMC seeks food providers that are safe and offer wholesome products using conscientious environmental production practices.

“We know there is a strong link between food, our agricultural system and health,” said director of Nutrition Services Susan Larcom. “Our goals are to provide fresh, healthy, minimally processed food that supports our commitment to wellness.”

While the Garden Café has committed to eliminating Styrofoam and switching to eco-friendly products, as well as recycling common kitchen items like cardboard, food service cans and grease, they’ve also engaged SMH associates in making better choices, not only for themselves, but the environment. Nutrition Services offers patients, as well as associates and visitors in the Garden Café, smart food choices, organic free-trade coffee, antibiotic-free meat when available, and cage-free eggs.

Associates also receive a discount when they provide their own cup in the Garden Café, and a farm stand-type display offers fresh produce for sale from local farmers seasonally.

“Also, as a café that serves nearly 1,000 meals each day, we know there can be a lot of food waste, whether that’s simply food not eaten or produce scraps,” said Larcom. “We have started tracking food waste, using that information to help us make better production decisions and be more resourceful in how we use leftover products.” For example, Nutrition Services sends produce scraps to a local farmer as animal feed, and they distribute unsold, safe food to a local food bank twice a week.

These efforts are not going unnoticed. The Garden Café was recognized by the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition as a 24-Karat Gold partner for purchasing locally and initiating sustainable food service measures. Larcom was also a top 10 finalist for the Premier Illuminating Excellence award for outstanding food service professionals.

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Nutrition Services is not the only area where SMH is becoming more environmentally friendly. SMH is making strides to reduce carbon emissions as another green initiative. The SMMC campus now features electric vehicle charging stations as part of Kansas City Power & Light’s Clean Charge Network, which provides free charging for the first two years. By working to reduce emissions, SMH is helping the Kansas City area attain EPA regional ozone standards while making it a cleaner, better place to live and work.

SMH also recently discontinued their campus shuttle bus service, which improves the environment and encourages associates to walk—another prime example of their commitment to CREATION Health.

“We continually think about ways we can use CREATION Health principles to improve the physical, mental and spiritual wellness of others,” said administrative director of Spiritual Wellness Mark Stoddart. “Enhancing the environment around us is a key part of this goal because our environment plays an increasingly important role in our overall health.”

Looking to the future, SMH has plans for other energy saving initiatives such as installing new LED lights in the main hospital corridors and continuing to utilize a lighting control system.

Jackie Woods is a writer for Shawnee Mission Health.