The 200 residents of Purdy Pavilion could soon be eating fruits and vegetables picked fresh from their UBC campus backyard.
A partnership between VCH, UBC Farm and food provider Sodexo is looking at getting the local produce grown at UBC Farm onto the plates of those living at Purdy.
“We don’t have a lot of opportunity in residential care, or even in acute care settings, to get local fruits and vegetables on the table – this is that opportunity,” says Bob Chapman, VCH's director of residential care and assisted living for Vancouver. “People live in Purdy, it’s their home, and to have fresh fruits and vegetables available for them – makes it a better experience.”
Tiffany Yeung, Sodexo district manager and registered dietitian, says the vision of this project is to bring fresh, safe and nutritious produce that is grown locally closer to home – from the farm to the plate.
“Engaging the stakeholders is a step in the right direction to incorporate more BC-grown ingredients into high quality, home-cooked meals in our hospitals,” she says. “The result? Happier and healthier patients, staff and community experience.”
Taking up close to 60 fertile acres, the UBC Farm grows more than 60 varieties of fruits and vegetables including blueberries, kale, potatoes and beets. Gavin Wallace, manager of residential services at Purdy Pavilion says the benefits of the partnership would be multiple.
“It would be pretty special if you get a lunch tray delivered and it has an apple on it grown on the UBC Farm,” he says, adding that the program recently received a $40,000 enviroFund grant from Vancity. “Local produce helps to build a sense of community. And fresh, local produce is not only more satisfying but there’s a higher nutritional content as well.”
Similar programs are emerging in health care institutions across the province
“A farm to health care program is operating at George Pearson Center, where the on-site market garden provides a food shares from the garden,” says Shannon Lambie from the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm.
Bob hopes that eventually residents will visit the farm and see first-hand where their food comes from.
“If you lived in your own home and had a garden you’d be able to grow your own tomatoes, grow your own peas and have them on your table,” he says. “If you’re in residential care, why should you not have access to local fruits and vegetables?"