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Fruits and vegetables on the menu of Health Facilities!

Équiterre, the Pointe-de-l’Île School Board and the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de Montréal led a project aiming to increase the share of local foods served to residents and employees of the four long-term care facilities of the East-Montreal Integrated University Health and Social Service Centre.

The project, made possible thanks to the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, confirmed that offering healthy local food in Quebec health facilities is not only highly desirable but also achievable!

Through this project, the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal increased the amount of local food served to residents and employees in the four long-term care facilities in the Pointe-de-l’Île sector by mobilizing suppliers, training personnel and organizing fruit and vegetable themed activities. The results include :

  • 26 % of the food served at the four centers are from Quebec
  • More than 150 themed meals featured some 32 fruits and vegetables in 2015
  • Three culinary trainings offered in collaboration with the École hôtelière de Montréal-Calixa Lavallée (catering school) of the Pointe-de-l’Île School Board allowed 25 health facilities employees to learn about Quebec fruits and vegetables and how to integrate them on the menu.

This initiative was made possible thanks to the financing of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. Under the foundation’s Institutional Food Program, the Laurentian CIUSSS also put in place several measures to offer healthy, local and sustainable food. The center built new relationships with local suppliers and created gardens on its grounds to increase local sourcing, put more fresh foods on its menus and to encourage the participation of its personnel and residents.

QUANTIFYING AND IDENTIFYING QUEBEC PRODUCTS

In order to have an accurate picture of the situation, Équiterre quantified the amount of local food on the menu. A total of 26 % of the food at the facilities in the Pointe-de-l’Île sector are from Quebec, states Murielle Vrins, Équiterre’s project manager in institutional food. This analysis can be used to set a target so as to progressively increase that percentage but also to encourage fruit and vegetable distributors to better identify local products. Thanks to this quantification, some distributors are now systematically identifying the origin of the food on the order lists sent to the food services, which represents a major achievement.

ADVANTAGES OF LOCAL SOURCING

It should be noted that local food procurement contributes to improving the flavour and nutritional quality of food. It also helps decrease packaging and food miles, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, it stimulates the local economy and encourages dynamic land occupation. Équiterre hopes that all of Quebec’s health facilities will be inspired and serve local food to their clientele.

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