​​​​​Ontario Food
Ontario has 51,000 farms, 98 per cent of which are family-owned. One quarter of the food they produce is consumed in the province. (Photo: The Greenbelt Foundation)​

By: Michael Ronchka, Public Affairs & Communications Intern, UHN

Starting this year, the 115 million meals served annually in hospitals across Ontario will contain more locally-sourced, sustainable food.

The Energy and Environment department at UHN has received a $124,000 grant from Greenbelt Fund​, a non-profit organization that supports the viability and sustainability of agriculture in Ontario. The grant will fund a study of the day-to-day barriers that prevent UHN from providing local food to patients.

Crowdsourcing: are you a foodie?

Once these barriers are identified, the UHN Choices for Ontario Food project will launch an online forum for crowdsourcing ideas to overcome them. Project coordinator, Adeline Cohen, sees this as a critical part of the process and hopes the UHN community will participate to generate more than 400 ideas.

"We are inviting hospital staff, patients and members of the food industry to help us identify ways of better linking the local food system to the hospital," said Cohen. "We hope to leverage Toronto's extremely diverse food culture to solve the most significant challenges around using more sustainable, locally-grown food in patient meals."

Fresher food for patients

The crowdsourcing website will launch in July and Cohen says the next step will be to launch several pilot programs to implement the community's ideas. She hopes the program will increase the amount of food UHN purchases locally by three to five per cent a year.

Achieving these goals will require more co-operation between the growers, processors, distributors and the hospital, and doing so will mean fresher food for patients. It will also mean reducing food miles, stimulating economic growth in Ontario, and fostering a better understanding of the food system's importance to health and well-being​​ among consumers.​

Join UHN's Local Food Team!

To share crowdsourcing ideas and receive project updates, join the UHN Local Food Team.
Email adeline.cohen@uhn.ca  for more information.

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