A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture ensures 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.
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.
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.
Doug Cochrane, board chair, Interior Health —
“Interior Health is proud to launch Feed BC at our facilities. Having locally sourced food for our patients further connects Interior Health to the communities that we serve.”
Peter Simonsen, local farmer and vice-president, BC Fruit Growers’ Association —
“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.”
Donna Koenig, manager of support services, Osoyoos and Oliver Interior Health —
“A healthy, well-balanced diet is important in maintaining good health, preventing disease and supporting and promoting recovery after illness. Interior Health and our partners — including the Ministry of Health, farmers, food processors and distributors — are therefore committed to sourcing out local foods within our province that meet quality, nutrition and safety standards.”
Kevin Boon, general manager, BC Cattlemen’s Association —
“High-quality, great tasting, nutritious food is an important part of everyone's health and healing. One of the ways of knowing you can trust that supply is by sourcing locally raised B.C. products. The B.C. cattle industry is working hard to establish a federally inspected packing plant to be able to increase the availability of B.C. beef to all British Columbians. It is especially important that our health-care facilities are at the front of the line to get it. This initiative is great for both the patient and the rancher.”
- Interior Health prepares over five million meals a year for patients, families and individuals in need in the community.
- For many years, Interior Health has chosen, when possible, to buy food that is produced or processed in B.C., like milk, bread, and seasonal fruit and vegetables.
- As part of the Feed BC initiative, Interior Health has already made the switch to B.C. shelled eggs and B.C. ground beef as part of its institutional buying plan.
- B.C. has 80 hospitals and 122 residential care homes, 25 public post-secondary institutions and over 1,500 public schools.
- Agriculture, seafood and food processing together form a $14-billion industry in B.C.
- There are 17,500 farms in B.C. that produce over 200 agricultural products and over 1,800 food and beverage manufacturing operations.
Information on Interior Health: https://www.interiorhealth.ca/Pages/default.aspx
HealthLink BC: www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthy-eating