Hospital food does not have a good reputation. Because the food is often frozen or pre-cooked, not only is it unappetizing, it may also lack proper nutrition — something especially important for people recovering from an illness.
“The nutritional benefits of serving fresh food could have a significant impact on a patient’s well-being, helping them to heal faster,” said Shannon Lambie, Communications Coordinator, at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm. “Local food is more sustainable and, because it tastes better, it could also help hospitals reduce their high rate of food waste. We’re hoping that, through the Farm to Hospital project, we can find a way to get healthy, local food onto patients’ plates.”
Thanks to a Vancity enviroFund grant, the Farm is one step closer to providing fresh produce to UBC Hospital.
The Farm has the capacity to regularly supply the hospital with one or two seasonal crops, like kale or berries, which could be used to make smoothies. Even though the Farm already delivers produce to several on-campus restaurants — including Totem and Vanier Place — the food safety standards for hospitals are much more rigorous and require special certification through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), a process that takes about a year.
“Right now, we’re working on building relationships with key stakeholders, including Sodexo, the company that holds the food contract for Vancouver Coastal Health Authority,” Lambie said, adding that she’s planning to create a “how-to” food safety manual to make it easier for other small scale farms in BC to supply to health care.
She’s also looking at Ontario’s well-established farm to hospital activities as a possible model. “Hospitals in Ontario employ chefs who serve real food. If we can find a way to do the same thing here in BC, it would be precedent setting.”
Read more about this project at http://ubcfarm.ubc.ca/2014/06/17/ubc-leading-the-farm-to-healthcare-movement/