1. Fleischhacker, Sheila Erin PhD, JD
  2. Ramachandran, Gowri BS, MD


This article briefly explains the implications for food and nutrition professionals of the new standards, tax penalties, and reporting requirements for nonprofit hospitals and healthcare systems to maintain a tax-exempt or charitable status under section 501(c)(3) of the Federal Internal Revenue Code set forth in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, Sec. 9007). The newly created 501(r) of the Internal Revenue Code requires, beginning with the first tax year on or after March 23, 2012, that such hospitals demonstrate community benefit by conducting a community health needs assessment (CHNA) at least once every 3 years and annually file information by means of a Schedule H (Form 990) regarding progress toward addressing identified needs. As hospitals conduct their CHNA and work further and collaboratively with community stakeholders on developing and monitoring their proposed action plans, the breadth and depth of food and nutrition activities occurring as a result of the Affordable Care Act Hospital Community Benefit Program will likely increase. The CHNA requirement, along with other emerging initiatives focused on improving the food environments and nutrition-related activities of hospitals and healthcare systems offer fruitful opportunities for food and nutrition professionals to partner on innovative ways to leverage hospital infrastructure and capacity to influence those residing, working or visiting the hospital campus, as well as the surrounding community.