Talkin’ Local Food with the University Health Network

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Author: Toby Davine

Posted: June 11, 2014

Categories: Food in the News / GoodFoodBites / Local Procurement

UHNHospitals are meant to be places of healing. While we often think of hospitals for the urgent bone-mending, and infection-quelling they provide, more people are turning their attention to hospital food as an important component in the health promotion process–putting the words “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” into practice.

University Health Network (UHN) has received a Greenbelt Fund grant to investigate the day-to-day barriers that prevent the UHN from providing local food to their patients, staff, and visitors throughout their 7 sites. Their goal of procuring more local food (5% by 2015 and 25% by 2018), would not only be a great benefit to its patients and staff, but would also be a significant gain for Ontario’s farmers. In fact, the total value of the food provided in Ontario’s hospitals and long-term care facilities each year is estimated to be over $285,000,000. As UHN serves more than 1.3 million meals a year, our farms and local economies have a lot to gain.

As part of this yearlong research project, the UHN is launching an online forum in July for crowdsourcing ideas called the “Talkin’ Food Team“– and they want you to join! Project Coordinator, Adeline Cohen hopes to gather over 400 ideas from a wide range of people, including hospital staff, patients, and members of the food community, to help shape their program going forward. Sign up now to share your ideas and receive updates about this groundbreaking project.

Getting more fresh local food in hospitals and other public institutions is something that Sustain and its members continue to work towards– whether it be working with municipalities to increase public procurement or promoting school nutrition programs. When more local food is in the mix, everybody wins.

To learn more about the Talkin’ Food Team and the UHN food project, visit the UHN Energy & Environment Department blog, Talkin’ Trash.