Beatrice Dagenais, the Masters Student who is working with the Sustainable Menus collaborative project, presented her research project at the Transforming Food Systems for the Health of People and the Planet Symposium at the University of Montreal on August 22. She's done two test interviews and has the next ones scheduled. Apart from the fact that a couple of facilities have turned down her interview requests because she is not associated to their researchers, things are progressing very well!
Approximately four years ago, we initiated a relationship with the City of Greater Sudbury to explore the possibility of composting the food waste our site was producing. Through our efforts to source increasingly local and delicious food (we currently source 25% of our food from Ontario producers and vendors) we also hope to decrease waste generated in our Food Service areas.
I am happy to say as of August 1, 2018 we have started to collect our organic waste in patient food services, as well as our retail food services, including Tim Hortons and the cafeteria!
These items are being picked up by the City to be turned into compost that can be used on gardens throughout the city as well as being sold to the general public. It took a while to sort out, but through the persistence of our Management team, our vision and patience have paid off. The City is finally ready to accept our organic waste - and staff in all participating areas are excited and on board! This is an exciting step in helping reduce our environmental impact on our city.
The garden is in full swing and our weekly market has been very successful. We have such an abundance of lettuces, cucumbers, onions, and herbs that the kitchen can’t keep up.
I must share a conversation that I had with a visiting patient yesterday, it was like music to my ears.
A gentleman was at HGMH to see his family doctor. Upon exiting the building he approached our market garden that is set up every Thursday. He began to explain the near-death experiences he's had over the last few years on separate occasions. He was convinced that giving up smoking and drinking were the ticket to better health.
His doctor recommended healthier eating and he took her recommendation to heart only minutes after his appointment. He and his wife purchased a multitude of vegetables; he was making a change to his eating habits because, in his words “clearly the food I eat is connected to my health”.
Here’s a quick update from our team:
We are currently reviewing the 30 food services RFPs from public buyers in multiple jurisdictions; 10+ policies specific to food/catering; 30 reports/academic articles to identify which are most relevant.
Pulling out language and “low-hanging fruit” from existing RFPs, eventually trying to push the envelope on language available for writing more values-drivin RFPs.
Scanning for and pulling out measurement methods or tools for evaluating social and environmental criteria in food RFPs.
We welcome any resources related to evaluating sustainability criteria in food and catering RFPs. We keep coming back to the reality that “If we can’t evaluate the sustainability language, it’s useless!”
We plan to beta-test the two RFP tools we create this Fall, one for self-operated sites and one for sites who outsource food services. Be in touch with us if you are interested in reviewing and testing these tools, by contacting: Maija Fiorante, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I get goosebumps when we talk about this project, we need it so badly and I am so glad this is rolling!” says co-lead Donna Koenig.
The sustainable menus team has been working hard to make the adoption of sustainable practice accessible to the food service industry in healthcare facilities.
Drafting of the Sustainable Menu Guide is well underway. Using the most current research across the agriculture, health, and social sciences, each chapter of the guide assesses and ranks food in terms of sustainability. The information is presented in a manner most useful to those in the food service industry, with tools to assess current menu sustainability and tips to integrate sustainable ingredients into practice. Thus far, proteins and starches have been completed, while vegetables, desserts, and beverages are underway. The guide connects with the work of other collaborative projects, such as values-based procurement and indigenous foodways. Research is being supported by Allison Gacad, a Loran Scholar at the University of British Columbia.
In addition, the team is working with Béatrice Dagenais, Master’s student, and Geneviève Mercille, assistant professor, at Université de Montreal. Their research, carried out in partnership with Nourish, is examining the feasibility of sustainable menu practices in healthcare food services. Through qualitative research with food service managers in Quebec healthcare facilities, this project will allow for a better understanding of different perceptions of sustainable menu practices in various contexts.
Following the discovery phase and prototyping exercises of our project over the winter and spring, our team is navigating a change of course. We’re moving away from our original project idea, creating a ‘How to’ guide, despite finding a lot of enthusiasm and support for this idea. You can read more about our process of creative destruction in our upcoming blog.
For now, we are re-focusing our efforts on Indigenous voices from across the nation. This fall we will host a gathering with our project team and Indigenous community members on Six Nations territory. We plan to go through a systems mapping process with Melanie Goodchild and Dan McCarthy, who are leaders in weaving Indigenous perspectives with complex systems-change initiatives. Our goal will be to gain a better understanding of the current reality, surface new insights about possible interventions, and build and strengthen relationships to move forward in a good way.
To stay in touch with our team, contact us at nourishTFP@gmail.com.
In early April 2018, our team co-authored a letter for the Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs to offer our support for the recent proclamation of the final pillar of the Local Food Act (Bill 36), which is to create targets and measures for institutional procurement of local food. Our experience has been that when healthcare facilities start to track their local sustainable food spend it helps them to change their purchasing practices and menus because they can measure progress and impact. See the attached case studies that highlight our team’s respective experiences. The enactment of this pillar will incentivize more thoughtful, values-based procurement from our public institutions, to build the vibrancy of our local food industries and to increase local food access.
Following the June election and change of government, we are now making plans to re-engage with the new government. "We were very proud of the letter and the case studies that we sent to the Liberal government,” says co-lead Marianne Katusin, “and we are ready to engage with the next government.” Out team is committed to knowledge transfer and sharing our unique tracking systems with other public sector organizations, and hope to be part of any consultations ahead related to the creation of specific procurement targets and measures. We would like to see a consultation process include our current vendors and manufacturers, and First Nations groups who are an important part of local food economies.
"One thing we've realized is that policy change is really slow,” says Marianne. “Getting the right people on board, setting up meetings, getting conversations going is difficult unless you really know somebody somewhere who can put you in touch with somebody somewhere. But we are excited and motivated as a team, and are adding another dimension to our work.” In parallel to our project around the Local Food Act, we are moving forward with plans to engage Health Quality Ontario with a proposal to create a new Quality Improvement Indicator related to the role of food in care.
You can stay in touch with our team by contacting: Marianne Katusin (email@example.com).
Over the last few months as local berries become abundant on Haida Gwaii, we have been able to get over 50 lbs of berries into the Xaayda Gwaay Ngaaysdll Naay/ Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Center. The strawberries growing mid island are bursting with flavour and were available every week for 1 month. For 3 weeks in a row we were able to serve these fresh home grown strawberries to the residents of long term and acute care. One day, the strawberries were picked the same day they were served on patient trays and replaced the strawberry jello that was originally slotted to be served that day. What is next? Tomorrow we are delivering 3 lbs of safely processed, handpicked salmonberries to be served, while we wait for the raspberries to ripen.
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Josée et l’Hôpital Sainte-Justine s’associent à Équiterre pour augmenter la quantité d’aliments locaux et biologiques au menu de l’hôpital. Lisez l’article ici (en français, pages 4, 11, 12 et 13).
June 21 marked National Indigenous Peoples Day, and to celebrate and honour the day, Travis brought Huron-Wendat and Anishinabek dishes to the Grove Park Home menu. We interviewed travis to learn how it all came about and to hear his takeaways from the day. Read the interview here.
To celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, Stephanie and her food and nutrition staff at Saskatchewan Health Authority facilities in Regina served up delicious traditional dishes to both staff and patients. We interviewed Stephanie to learn about how she and her team planned this menu and what inspired her. Read it here.
After many years of not cooking on site, we have served 20 home cooked meals since March! The patients, residents and staff are loving the experience.
Today we are delighted to officially welcome Fasken Law and Buy Social Canada as our partners on this project to bring value-based food procurement to Canadian health care. Under the leadership of Buy Social Canada's David Le Page and Maija FIorante, a scan of best-in-class social procurement language is currently underway. With the legal expertise of award-winning firm Fasken Law, led by Kathryn Beck, Vanessa Mui, and Daniel Fabiano, we will bring this research to life by developing and open-sourcing tested language for adoption by health care food purchasers. Read more here.