SUDBURY, ON – Health Sciences North/Horizon Santé-Nord (HSN) is looking to add more Ontario foods to its menus for patients, staff, and visitors.
HSN is one of ten organizations in Ontario chosen to be part of the 2014 Local Food Challenge.
The goal of the Local Food Challenge is to help public institutions such as hospitals, schools, and universities incorporate more local food into their menus. Local food is defined as food grown, raised, or processed in Ontario.
The 2014 Local Food Challenge is an initiative of the Greenbelt Fund, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable agriculture in the province. The Local Food Challenge is also supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
“The Local Food Challenge gives institutions like Health Sciences North, the opportunity to cook with more local food and explore their menus with the added incentive of having a little friendly competition with hospitals, and schools from across Ontario,” said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Greenbelt Fund. “Sudbury is becoming a thriving hub of local food activity, and we look forward to even more local food being served in the community.”
HSN has set a target of increasing its local food content by 15 per cent over the next year for its patient menu. One initiative to achieve this is to increase the amount of fresh food items by taking advantage of Ontario foods in season.
“This Challenge is an exciting opportunity for us to provide our patients with more local food because good nutrition means better health and quicker recovery times, “ says Kathy Berger, Manager of Food Services at HSN.
Joining HSN in the Local Food Challenge is Marek Hospitality, which runs the Rock Garden Café, the main cafeteria at the Ramsey Lake Health Centre. Marek will use this challenge to promote and increase awareness of it’s current use of locally procured items.
“What we’ve created in the Rock Garden Café is truly a culinary culture,” adds Stewart Brown,
Director of Retail Foodservices for Marek Hospitality at HSN. “ Led by chefs, we create food that is alive with flavour and nutrition. Prepared from scratch using locally sourced ingredients, this challenge gives us the opportunity to track our purchases, increase the local food we have in our menu, and see how we stack up against the other nine organizations participating in the challenge.”
HSN and Marek Foods are planning a number of initiatives over the year to promote the Local Food Challenge. They include seeking out opportunities to buy more food produced in northeastern Ontario. Currently, all the fresh potatoes used in HSN’s patient kitchen and the Rock Garden Café are provided by a Sudbury-area supplier. Other initiatives include hosting food fairs, employee recipe contests, and collaborating on menu ideas to coordinate with seasonal products featuring Ontario ingredients.
HSN will also use the challenge to educate patients about how much of the food they eat while in hospital is prepared on site.
“There’s a perception that all hospital meals are premade, shipped here, and just reheated, but only about half of our patient food is purchased already prepared, “adds Kathy Berger. “In our kitchen we produce our mashed potatoes, rice, noodles, and sandwiches. We cook chicken breasts from scratch, we cook our eggs and hot cereals here, and we also prepare some bakery items. We want patients to feel comfortable about the food they eat here, and we’ll be looking to add even more Ontario foods to our menu.”
For more information about the Local Food Challenge, visit www.ontariofresh.ca.