Commitments by the University of California San Francisco Medical Center and John Muir Health to purchase all of their liquid eggs from a cage-free supplier has helped that supplier, Wilcox Farms, manage despite the greater costs associated with cage-free operation.
"In 2006 our family made the decision to convert our hen houses from conventional to cage free and organic," says Wilcox Farms co-owner Andy Wilcox. "Although we knew it was the right thing to do, it has not always been easy—the process has been extremely intense both with financial and management resources. So when customers like UCSF and John Muir Health choose our products, it validates our decision to transition to cage-free and organic. This is a really positive motivator for our family."
"At UCSF Medical Center, we use over 66,000 pounds of liquid eggs annually," explains Associate Director of Nutrition and Food Services Jack Henderson. "As a result of switching from conventionally-raised eggs to cage free-eggs, UCSF is saving over 2,000 chickens from living in battery cages every year. This is part of our larger goals in sustainable purchasing."
UCSF Medical Center and John Muir Health achieved this result through their membership in the Bay Area Hospital Leadership Team, whose seven constituent hospitals have signed the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge that states that healthy food must come from a food system that is economically viable, ecologically sustainable, and socially just. The hospitals share knowledge and pool their purchasing power in order to shift the marketplace toward healthier, sustainably-produced food. Two other members, the San Francisco VA Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente, plan to transition to liquid cage-free eggs this spring.