Local Food for Ontario Hospitals

Project Description:

Ontario imports many of the foods which can be grown in the province. The McGuinty government recently announced that it is investing $24 million to get more Ontario-grown food into the province’s schools, hospitals, food service companies and other institutions. This study will support the government’s effort by investigating current practices and recent innovations in food provision in Ontario’s hospitals and identify the benefits and costs of incorporating local foods into patient meals and cafeterias.

A multi-method research approach involving quantitative and qualitative techniques and teams of student research assistants will be employed to gather detailed information from the administrators of 250 Ontario hospitals. Specifically, surveys will uncover current food purchasing and contracting practices, while focus groups will delve into areas such as recent innovations, budgets, contract restrictions, and government regulations. Input into current practices and the potential for changing these practices will also be sought from local growers food service providers, and operations staff within healthcare facilities.

Results will include specific recommendations for Ontario’s healthcare providers and for local farmers and growers. Dissemination of these results will include delivering multiple symposia to not only all participating parties and institutions, but to healthcare institutions and farming-related associations throughout Ontario.


Project Results:

The challenges and opportunities of incorporating local foods

Dr. Paulette Padanyi and Dr. Vinay Kanetkar (University of Guelph)
Linda Varangu and Brendan Wylie-Toal (Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care)
Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Project Timeline:

May 1, 2010 – April 20, 2013


Project Funders:

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs and University of Guelph Partnership Fund
MITACS Accelerate
YMCA Youth Eco Internship Program


Project Partners:

Health Care:
St. Mary’s Hospital, Kitchener, Ontario

Aramark HealthCare Canada

Dr. Paulette Padanyi, University of Guelph – Project Lead
Dr. Vinay Kanetkar, University of Guelph
Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer, Wilfrid Laurier University

Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care
My Sustainable Canada
Waterloo Region Food Systems Roundtable