Elgin County Homes, Elgin - $15,000

Kate Burns was a very busy person this year. Aside from her usual duties as Business Development Coordinator for the County of Elgin, she also jumped in to the Local Food Challenge with both feet, managing the project for Elgin County Homes, and organizing events with managers from each of the three seniors’ homes within the system who participated in the Challenge. Residents, visitors, and staff were treated to a visit and tasting with local sheep cheese producer Gunn’s Hill, tasted and judged a local fruit bake-off, and looked forward to weekly menus using local ingredients and new recipes. During the course of the Challenge, Elgin County Homes reached their goal of having 15 per cent of food purchases be of local food.

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St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto - $15,000

Food in hospitals has been a hot button topic lately. Balancing patient care with a need to work within existing protocols and tight budgets makes feeding patients a challenge already, and when you add a local food component, even more so. Unless you’re a local food champion like Heather Fletcher, Manager of Food Services at St. Michael’s Hospital, and a team of dedicated foodservice professionals with the passion to make it happen. By engaging staff in all steps from procurement to plate, St. Michael’s has kept local food front-of-mind, and the initiative is an active part of their foodservice processes. Special events included onsite farmers’ markets, which gave staff and visitors the opportunity to learn, sample, and take fresh Ontario food home. At the end of the Challenge, the hospital had developed 10 new menu items, reported a high level of patient satisfaction, and increased their local purchases by 11 per cent over the year.

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Carleton University, Ottawa - $15,000

The City of Ottawa is made up of over 90 per cent rural lands, and home to 1,128 farms. The area counts dairy, chicken, maple syrup, and cranberries among its many local products. With this kind of bounty, it’s not surprising that local food is the star of Ottawa menus. The challenge is when those menus need to serve thousands of students, three times a day. Carleton University, along with its partner Aramark Canada, stepped up to the Local Food Challenge in a big way, with their chefs celebrating Go Local every Wednesday at their Fresh Food Company. Last October, students and foodservice staff were taken on a day-long tour of the farms of Ottawa, learning first-hand how their food gets from farm to plate, and the challenges that face hard working farmers in the area. Their hard work paid off, and at the end of the Local Food Challenge, their local purchases totaled over $500,000, representing 37 per cent of their total food purchases.

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Riverside Health Care Facilities, Fort Frances - $13,215

Whoever said sourcing local food in Ontario’s north was a challenge was not kidding. When you live in a place where the growing season is a mere four months long, finding ways to bring more Ontario food to patient menus can be tricky. Under the direction of Felicia (Felix) Blasky, the five facilities that make up Riverside Health Care Facilities used their Local Food Challenge grant to make it happen by increasing their use of local proteins through partnerships with Rainy River Meats, Sunrise Meats, and Rainy River District Regional Abattoir. By developing products such as sausages and meatballs made with local beef and pork, these partners were able to provide Riverside with innovative products that suit the needs of seniors in their care. By increasing their purchases of local proteins, and building strong collaborative partnerships with local producers, Riverside’s local food purchases in 2013 surpassed $45,000.

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Discover Local Event - 2013

To celebrate the wrap-up of the 2013 Local Food Challenge and the success of our six grantees, we gathered at Café Soleil at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto, for our Discover Local event and to present the Local Food Challenge Awards.

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