More hospitals need to use locally grown food, council says

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions is concerned about the nutritional content in hospital food and is calling on the provincial government to improve food standards.
Alex Jackson and Louis Rodrigues were at a press conference at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch on Weller Street in Sudbury Monday to help raise awareness about improving the nutritional content of hospital food. Jackson is a British food activist with a group called Sustain that is trying to change the kind of food patients in the U.K. are served. Rodrigues is a former hospital chef at Kingston General Hospital and is currently the regional vice-president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions is concerned about the nutritional content in hospital food and is calling on the provincial government to improve food standards.

The council is in North Bay today as part of a province-wide tour to raise awareness about unhealthy hospital food.

The regional vice-president of the organization said government intervention is needed to improve menu options that largely involve “microwave food.”

“We can grow it here, work with farmers, get an infrastructure in place of sustainability that we can supply our own food and grow it here, cook it here, serve it here, take pride in what we do,” Louis Rodrigues said. “[We can] improve it. [Patients] need their nutrition. They need to be looked after."

Often hospital food isn't nutritious and government intervention is needed to improve hospital menus, advocates say. (williamscardiology.com)

Rodrigues stopped in Sudbury on Monday, where the local hospital is part of a provincial initiative to expand the amount of locally grown food it offers patients.

Health Sciences North wants at least 30 per cent of its food to be grown and processed in Ontario by the end of the year. Currently, about 18 per cent of its food is grown and processed in Ontario. All potatoes served in the hospital are purchased locally from Valley East.

British food activist Alex Jackson, who has joined Rodrigues on the Ontario tour, said more hospitals should cook locally grown food.

"Where a hospital has got a kitchen, and it has set standards for its food, it can ensure that a good proportion of the food is local and seasonal,” he said. “They [should] take advantage of seasonal food when it's in season."

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