DeBor observed that the new federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act has strengthened the long standing IRS “community benefit” requirement that nonprofit hospitals must meet to justify their nonprofit status. This includes a mandate to perform a “community needs assessment” in collaboration with public health experts and stakeholders in local communities served by the hospital/hospital system and then to develop and implement a plan to meet the identified needs. Since obesity-related chronic disease is a widespread problem and improving food systems and access to healthful foods is now recognized as part of the solution to this problem, farmers should be among the stakeholders participating in the community needs assessment process.

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