As a previous Greenbelt Fund grantee, the University of Guelph has demonstrated their commitment to sourcing local, and they have set the bar high with the success of their project. As part of the Local Food Challenge, the University will focus on sourcing local proteins and creating their own burgers, meatballs, and sausages on-site for use in their 100 Mile Grille restaurant, as well as in other outlets on campus. By equipping themselves to process on-site, they will eliminate the need for pre-fab and imported meat products, while providing the freshest and tastiest products to their students. A complementary condiment canning project means those burgers will be topped with local product as well.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Using local food to make that breakfast means healthier food, better tasting recipes, and support for local farms. Using their existing culinary program, St. James Catholic High School will develop 10 local food breakfast items that will be used to supply elementary school breakfast programs in the area. By the end of the Challenge, they will make local food purchasing a pillar of their catering business standards.
Committed to preparing fresh, healthy food from scratch for their tiny diners, Niagara Region Child Care Services is going the distance, building on their current sustainability initiatives and providing local, seasonal recipes every day in their five regional child care centres. The plan is to bring the farms to kids and their families through field trips and educational events, enlist the services of a trained chef to develop healthy local recipes, and find out what local foods kids enjoy the most. By the end of the Challenge, the five daycares in the system will be purchasing a minimum of 10 per cent local products.
Not every hospital is fortunate enough to have three Red Seal chefs on staff, but when you have this kind of experience at your disposal, you can get creative with local food menus. Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital will visit area farms to source above and beyond their current supply list, and use local product in their everyday menus. What cannot be used right away will be preserved on-site, helping to ensure local food will be available to patients year-round.
The Niagara Health System believes that using as much local food as possible is important, and a key factor in achieving excellence in patient meals. Staff will develop local food menus, survey patients, and use their size to leverage key supplier partnerships with local producers, increasing their local food spend to 20 per cent by the end of the Challenge.
The Lakehead District School Board will engage food and nutrition faculty and students to develop seasonal local food menus, and prepare and serve Local Food Feature meals in student cafeterias. Through social media, the Board will share their stories and successes and connect with other school boards to encourage replication of their efforts.
It may appear that sourcing local product in Northern Ontario would be a challenge, but Health Sciences North is already sourcing all of their potatoes, fresh chicken, dairy, and seasonal produce locally, and through funding from the Local Food Challenge, will happily show that it’s possible to do even more. Sudbury is becoming known for their local food festivals, and the hospital plans to create this same festival atmosphere within their cafeteria and on their patients’ plates by using as many seasonal foods as possible. By the end of the Challenge, they will increase their local food purchases by 15 per cent through new menu items and collaboration with their main suppliers.
As a culinary school, Centennial College recognizes the importance of educating their students about the importance of buying and using Ontario ingredients whenever possible. With that mission in mind, their Challenge project will introduce students to the entire cycle of local food from farming to processing, and finally, using fresh, local food to create their culinary creations. Centennial aims to be a leader in promoting and using Ontario products as part of their curriculum and in developing new menus in their student-run cafeteria.
Sometimes a few small changes can have big impacts, and when Scarborough Hospital came on board for the Challenge, their strategy was simple. Take a few items of local produce and replace them with ones grown locally. By embarking on a year-long preserving project, the hospital was able to replace imported peaches, tomatoes, pears, and berries with local ones, sourced seasonally and frozen for off-season use in newly developed from-scratch recipes. Building on this model, they will be using their new flash-freezing and sealing equipment to introduce local vegetables next year. By focusing on a few items, Scarborough Hospital was able to purchase 81 per cent of these products locally.Read more
The Local Food Challenge represents another step in the evolution of food at the University of Toronto. The Challenge allowed them to build upon their previous goals of 10 per cent local food procurement campus-wide. As part of their Challenge they held an event called Field-to-Fork, which saw an entire street closed off for a day-long local food feast for close to 200 people. The University invited their students to sign a pledge to buy local food on and off campus, and to date 500 students have showed their commitment to local food. Through seasonal menu planning and the hard work of five campus dining hall chefs, U of T’s grant resulted in a $425,000 local food spend over the duration of the Challenge.Read more