Category Archives: Project SOIL

Hospital Food in the UK

( … don’t know what i want, but i know how to get it)

Good hospital food needn’t cost more – Soil Association

“Catering Mark-accredited hospitals also champion British and local food producers, with the result that for every £1 spent on a Food for Life Catering Mark menu there is a social return on investment of more than £3 to the local community, mostly in the form of new jobs and contracts for local food producers.”

The Soil Association in the UK is well known for its certification of organic farming, food and drink production, but the certifier also has an international forest management branch(!?!), and a Food for Life catering mark.

“The Catering Mark provides an independent endorsement that food providers are taking steps to improve the food they serve, using fresh ingredients which are free from undesirable additives and GM, and better for animal welfare.”

Where applied to hospital and care settings, they offer this set of rationales:

“There is a growing awareness of the connection between good food, and health and wellbeing. Obesity and diet related ill health is already costing the NHS £10 billion a year, and this has been estimated to rise to £50 billion by 2050.
In 2010, our survey revealed that nearly two thirds of people have brought in food from outside hospital because the meals on offer were so unappetising.”

Some Examples

After Hinchingbrooke Hospital was awarded a Bronze Catering Mark, they stated that “Patient satisfaction jumped to 92 per cent just two months after the new menus were introduced”.  Unfortunately they don’t provide details on that claim: however, they do offer completely transparent patient feedback results!

Whitgift House was the first care home to receive the Bronze Catering Mark. “Not only are our residents benefitting from a healthier diet, they are also enjoying their food more.”

Sustain Campaign

And check out Sustain (UK)’s Campaign for Better Hospital Food Facebook page, which has been very active, and includes some frightening photos and stories, as well as a survey of the attitudes of hospital catering staff.

Feasibility Study of On-site, Institutional Food Production

Led by postdoctoral researchers Phil Mount and Irena Knezevic, this three-year project will look at the viability of on-site  food production at public institutions, through collaborative arrangements with local food producers.

New Directions Research ProgramProject SOIL is funded by the New Directions Research Program of the Ontario Ministries of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs.

The project builds on emerging production models that can flexibly adapt to  institutional resources (including SPIn or Small Plot Intensive farming), as well as land tenure models that could contribute to community food production, health and well-being –  such as Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital’s donation of land to a social-purpose business (GreenWerks) that grows food for the hospital, local markets, and food bank.

The feasibility of alternatives will be explored by:

  1. surveying public institutions to identify capacity to support food production;
  2. interviewing institutional key informants to understand opportunities/constraints; and
  3. performing in-depth site analyses to explore food production models and cooperative opportunities with existing local food networks.

Case studies and cost/revenue flows will help to guide three innovative and groundbreaking food production pilot projects. These pilots will test the therapeutic benefits at gardens on the properties of Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital -which focuses on post acute stroke rehabilitation- and Homewood Health Centre, a leading addiction and mental health treatment facility. The multiple values of the food and synergistic benefits produced from the soil on these properties will be explored at these health facilities, and also at the Food School Farm, Centre Wellington District High School’s radical participatory agroecological education program that looks to produce “critical and confident food growers and consumers”.

Return often; this site will expand organically, reflecting the growth of the project.