A grid of 8 pictures of fresh vegetables with an outline of Vancouver Island over top.

Photo Credit: VanIsle Staff

Healthy, Fresh Food in Hospitals — What a Concept?

Project helps local farms and patients

A pilot project will increase the amount of local food served in hospitals. But can it improve the taste?

The two best ways to get better when you are sick or injured are to get lots of sleep and eat healthy food.

So why can’t you get either when you go to the hospital?

The healthy food part could change on the island. That’s because of a pilot project Island Health has launched to increase the amount of local food served in hospitals and long-term care facilities on Vancouver Island.

Island Health serves approximately four million meals to patients and residents on the island every year.

Produce from Island farms will go to facilities in Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Chemainus, Cumberland and Campbell River.

Galey Farms in Saanich and Michell’s Farm in Saanichton are two of the farms involved in the pilot project. Galey Farms is known for its fall corn maze and railway. Michell’s Farm, which has been around since the 1860s, is famous for its farm market just off the Pat Bay Highway.

“This initiative also benefits farmers, producers, and people across BC by strengthening our food supply chain and supporting local jobs,” said Adam Walker, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum, in a statement Friday.

Island Health developed the pilot project with help from the Island Vegetable Co-op Association and Islands West.

Although hospital food is usually like mushy, tasteless gruel, the province says nearly one-third of all food bought by the healthcare system is locally produced or processed.

“Having our loved ones able to enjoy more local and seasonal food while in hospital or living in long-term care is an important part of healing and staying connected,” BC Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham told CTV News.

“Having access to fresh, high-quality food in hospitals and care facilities helps people heal,” said MLA Walker.

Facilities will be adding new recipes that feature the local produce. Hopefully, this improves the food’s taste as well as its nutrition.

Perhaps Walker and Popham’s next project could be fixing hospital policies that wake people up every few hours and cooking that makes school cafeteria food seem like gourmet cuisine.