A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture will ensure more of the food served to patients at Interior Health facilities is from British Columbia.
Feed BC is increasing the institutional procurement of food grown, harvested or processed by B.C. farmers, fishers and processors.
“Feed BC is a game changer. It’s about working collaboratively to encourage, inspire and support a shift to more B.C. foods in health-care and other government facilities. It’s food as medicine,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Buying local not only supports the agriculture sector in B.C. and B.C. residents, it contributes to our provincial food security, helping build a more resilient and sustainable food supply.”
Popham was joined by representatives of Interior Health, Sysco Canada-Kelowna and local farmers for a tour of the Penticton Regional Hospital’s regional production kitchen, where they announced the new initiative that will increase the use of B.C. food in Interior Health facilities.
“Healthy, great-tasting meals can help people during recovery,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Fortunately, we don’t have to look far in B.C. for delicious and nutritious food. Increasing access to B.C.-grown and produced foods in health-care facilities not only improves the freshness and quality of the meals served, it better supports the patients’ experience, outcomes and the livelihood of B.C.’s farmers and producers.”
Oliver-based S&G Farms and Golden Valley Eggs, from Abbotsford, are two B.C. suppliers currently working with food distributor Sysco to provide Interior Health with more B.C. products to be prepared and served in all 55 Interior Health health-care facilities. Interior Health is also working closely with its partners to ensure food is of good quality and locally sourced whenever possible and follows strict food safety measures.
“Feed BC is creating more opportunities and opening doors for British Columbians in the farming sector. We work hard to grow quality and delicious products that we are proud of and want to share with the rest of the province,” said Peter Simonsen, vice-president of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association.
Penticton Regional Hospital and Vernon Jubilee Hospital serve as regional production kitchens making meals and food items served in all Interior Health facilities, as well as preparing meals for patients, families and individuals in need in the community. IH prepares over five million meals a year for patients, families and individuals.
The B.C. government is supporting Feed BC in the Interior by providing over $350,000 in funding over the next year to help implement Feed BC in Interior Health facilities. The funding will include a project facilitator, patient information, procurement specialist services and a food-processing specialist who will support B.C. processors in meeting the product needs of health-care facilities.
The Feed BC initiative with Interior Health will act as a guide for the development of B.C. food procurement strategies that could be easily implemented in other provincial health authorities, as well as other public institutions, such as universities and colleges.
Feed BC is a key priority for the Ministry of Agriculture and supports the Province’s commitment to increase the use of B.C.-grown and B.C.-processed foods in hospitals, schools and other government facilities. The Ministry of Health and the regional health authorities are supporting Feed BC by annually tracking B.C. food spends and exploring new opportunities to increase the use of B.C. foods in all health-care facilities.
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