Local roots for senior citizens in Thunder Bay

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Author: Lea Kliem

Posted: September 23, 2015

Categories: GoodFoodBites / Local Procurement / Municipal Regional Food Policy Network / News from Sustain Members

Source: Belluz Farms

Source: Belluz Farms

The City of Thunder Bay has made an agreement with nearby Belluz Farms to supply local food to three city-run seniors’ homes – Grandview Lodge, Dawson Court and Pioneer Ridge.

The partnership is part of the implementation of the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy and will allow senior citizens of Thunder Bay to eat more local root vegetables such as carrots, beets, cabbages and onions from north-western Ontario year-round. Chris Borutski, the supervisor of nutrition and food services at Pioneer Ridge Home for the Aged told CBC News that he sees this as an opportunity to diversify the menu and develop new recipes such as blueberry beet muffins. He is hopefully that other large city players in the city will join their example and expand Thunder Bay’s public sector procurement of local food.

The programme also has a positive effect on the local economy and creates new jobs. Kevin Belluz, owner of Belluz Farm shared with CBC News that the programme allows his operation to grow, as he had to hire three more staff during the summer to help meet the demand. He is now looking to hire two permanent staff members. Belluz told the Chronicle Journal: “It’s a great start for local farms to be supplying more volume of local product into institutions in particular and the city has demonstrated that we can work together”.

According to the Chronicle Journal, city officials and area farmers have expressed concerns about guaranteed adequate supply and price bumps at the end of the season. In response to these concerns, Thunder Bay’s supply management division established a fixed price and quantity for the pilot project. To address the logistical challenges involved in getting large volumes to some of the homes and bigger buyers, Belluz Farms have been able to purchase the necessary equipment and facilities to improve their long-term storage through a Greenbelt Fund and support from the Ontario Government.

Learn More

Have you ever wondered what goes into the procurement process for food in the public sector? Watch this 3-minute video from the University Health Network Department of Energy and Environment which provides a comprehensive explanation of what it takes to serve local Ontario-grown food to hospital patients across Ontario. Learn about the internal management system, such as how diet profiles are created and how accessibility needs are met, and where value chain capacity needs to grow to meet these institutional procurement needs.