Fraser Health urged to shop local

But MLA John Les believes hospital meal procurement idea ‘not that easy.'

The NDP is calling on the B.C. government to step into food procurement by hospitals that neighbour on key food-producing areas of the province like the Fraser Valley.

NDP leader Adrian Dix said in a news release that an FOI request sent to the Fraser Health Authority showed “there are no formal policies in place that involve the provincial government using its purchasing power to promote locally grown food in area hospitals, though they neighbour key areas of the Agricultural Land Reserve.”

However, the FHA’s food purchases are handled by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

“We don’t track the locally sourced food items simply because they are seasonal and we always buy in season through our contractor Gordon Food Services,” said Anna Marie D’Angelo, senior media relations officer at the VCHA.

She said local menu items served fresh include fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apples, peaches, blueberries and all the berries, green beans and broccoli.

Chilliwack MLA John Les, a dairy farmer turned politician, said it’s all very well to encourage individuals to buy locally, but the quantities required by health authorities and the seasonal nature of produce makes it a more complicated matter.

“I’m not aware of any producer in the Fraser Valley geared up or able to produce food in the way or in those quantities and at the price health authorities can afford,” he said.

And at the end of the day, he said, food purchases come out of the health care budget.

“Health authorities are trying to focus as much of their budget as they can on patient care,” he said.

Les called the NDP plan “simplistic” because “when the rubber of reality hits the road, it’s not that easy” for hospitals to buy locally.

However, Dix said 33 states and provinces, including Ontario, already have policies in place for government-funded bodies to use their institutional buying power to support and promote locally grown and processed food.

“That’s what we’d like to see more of,” Dix told Black Press, adding that the FHA’s contractual agreements don’t preclude it from buying locally.

“There’s clearly room to buy local to improve the quality of food,” he added.

According to a recent survey of acute care patients in the FHA, only 54 percent of those who responded found the food served in area hospitals satisfactory.

D’Angelo suggested that’s not surprising since the sodium content of hospital food is reduced for health reasons.

“Most people’s diets are too high in sodium, so when they come to hospital they feel the food is bland,” she said.

“We are always adjusting our menus to support the better health of patients and residents, and buying local, when we are able, is one of the ways we do this,” she said.

The FHA serves about five million meals to patients and residents every year, she said, spending about $9.7 million.

Just Posted

GREEN BEAT: Langley prof witnesses a desperately dry country

The current drought in New South Wales is being called one of the worst ever, B.C. is so fortunate

Still anyone’s game in lacrosse championships unfolding in Langley

Orangeville, Okotoks victorious on Day 2 of Minto Cup nationals at the Langley Events Centre

VIDEO: A few small changes help drive attendance at Saturday’s Arts Alive

Langley art festival brings close to 200 various artists and thousands of spectators to Langley City

Abandoned house blaze worries Langley neighbours

Redevelopment area of Willowby attracts squatters and partiers, and fires fear area residents

Day 1 underway at 2019 Minto Cup in Langley

Coquitlam and Orangeville out ahead after the first day of action at Langley Events Centre

VIDEO: Bubblemania in the burbs

Doggies frolic about when a bubblemaking machine is set to create fun in their Langley City yard

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read