Farm-To-Hospital: Fresh, Local Foods Coming to a Cafeteria Near You

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Farm-To-Hospital: Fresh, Local Foods Coming to a Cafeteria Near You!

The BNMC’s Farm to Hospital initiative is designed to bring more locally grown and sourced produce, proteins, and other menu items to patients, visitors, and employees across the Medical Campus, in partnership with Kaleida Health and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Benefits of New York State Grown Foods

We all have heard the buzz about local foods.  But what does it really mean?

When businesses and institutions buy local it can have remarkable effects on public health, the environment and the local economy.  The mere questioning of where food is produced allows us to become more aware of what we put into our bodies.  And when the benefits are listed, there seems to be little question of the better option.

Wow, this stuff is tasty!  Locally grown food is at optimal freshness, picked at the peak of ripeness and therefore full of flavor.  Produce retains more nutrients and is higher in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  With fewer steps between you and the source of your food, contamination is far less likely. As well, local farmers may be using less or no pesticides and herbicides, which is healthier for the body especially for those who are immunocompromised.

In Western New York we love our green spaces and blue waters.  And, our “City of Good Neighbors” nature can extend to helping the environment too.  Eating more local foods reduces C02 emissions through less food miles travelled, helping with overall climate change.  When our producers operate well-managed farms it help protect the naturally rich ecosystem by conserving our fertile soil and fresh water from Lake Erie, as well as sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.  Buying local protects our amazing natural resources for future generations to enjoy.

Money helps too!  Choosing local supports OUR farmers. More dollars stay within the local economy and provide the security producers need to continue in this rewarding yet challenging work.  We should all be proud.  New York State ranks nationally for its top agricultural products such as apples, maple syrup and pumpkins. We are third in the nation for our dairy, wine & grapes, cabbage, cauliflower and fourth for tart cherries, fresh market sweet corn, squash, pears.  Here in Western New York we are surrounded by rural farmland and in the past decade, urban farming in Buffalo has become a mainstay and hydroponic farms provide offerings throughout the year.

Grant-Funded Program Increases Access to Healthy, Local Foods in Hospitals

In 2018, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC) was one of 44 organizations nationwide and one of just four organizations in New York State to receive a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Local Food Promotion Program to help create a culture of healthy food practices and increase local food procurement.  “BNMC Fresh: Farm to Hospital Implementation” works to prioritize local agriculture within hospitals and enables farms to access new markets such as health care institutions.

Our Partners’ Role

From the beginning of BNMC’s commitment to supporting local agriculture, the food services teams at both Roswell and Kaleida Health have been leading the charge.  Devoted to providing the healthiest options, Roswell Park’s Director of Nutrition and Food Services Chris Dibble had this to say, “The culinary team at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center strives to procure and utilize local produce whenever possible. Our Farm to Table program not only supports local farmers, but also provides benefits to our patients and visitors.  Eating fruits and vegetables closest to their harvest times is always ideal because they are most nutritious at that point.”

RPCCC has encouraged their employees to take part in Community Supported Agriculture programs, extending these benefits to home dinner tables.  Their team has travelled to learn more about what other hospitals are doing to support regional local food systems.

Similarly, since the start of this initiative at Kaleida, Metz Culinary has worked with the BNMC team to build on their promise of healthy offerings as well as providing helpful information on where they are sourcing their foods from and the benefits of farm fresh local foods.

“Metz’s commitment to procuring locally grown and sourced produce and meats aligns well with Kaleida Health’s commitment to advancing the health of our community,” said Hank Cole, director of Rehabilitation Medicine and Ambulatory Clinics at Buffalo General Medical Center. “Through Metz, we’re able to provide our patients, residents, employees and guests with healthy meal options, made with the freshest ingredients, while also supporting our local farmers. It’s a win-win situation. “

Kaleida and Metz are launching a Farm to Hospital campaign to share information on fruits and veggies they use in their menu as well as introducing the producers. Recently they featured a pop-up Farmer’s Market in the cafeteria, which is a fun way of getting these veggies out into homes.

Stay Tuned!

The BNMC team are proud to showcase the hard work of our food service teams and our local farmers and are happy to help provide the healthiest – and tastiest! – culinary offerings out there.  Throughout the upcoming year, our Farm to Hospital team will provide employees, patients and visitors with BNMC Farm-to-Hospital Implementation information about featured local produce, as well as introducing the amazing farmers behind the products.  Keep your eyes out for the latest informational messages coming your way. And enjoy the tastes of the season!