UBC Undergraduate Research

Farm-to-healthcare project Sine, Erin; Saddler, Samantha; Picardo, Erika; Sousa, Ashley; Wong, Amy; Paolella, Nic; Pipher, Hayley

Abstract

A farm-to-healthcare partnership effectively brings in food from local farmers and producers to hospitals and/or healthcare institutions. Currently, there are no such partnerships in Vancouver. However, through the help of our primary stakeholder Shannon Lambie, UBC Farm Communications Coordinator, we aspire to develop this partnership in the UBC community by May 2015 with a three-year pilot project focusing on farm-to-healthcare at the UBC Hospital. The partnership that will be established through this project is between the UBC Farm and Sodexo. Sodexo is a company contracted by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority to provide food services, that purchases the majority of food from a company called Gordon Food Services (GFS) (Personal Communication: Moubarak, February 19, 2014). GFS is a U.S.-based distribution company and the B.C. branch is Sodexo’s primary food supplier in the Lower Mainland. In regards to the specific activities of this project, we primarily created a literature assessment, which was conducted using distinct methodologies. Face-to-face interviews were also conducted with valuable informants such as Shannon Lambie, Cristel Moubarak and Brent Mansfield to gain in-depth and qualitative information. The interviews specifically conducted with Shannon Lambie provided us with the foundational knowledge needed to commence this project. Not only did Shannon state her goals and expectations for this project, but she also provided our group with key academic publications and resources related to farm-to-healthcare. We divided our team of seven into two groups, with one group researching the Sodexo perspective, while the other focusing on the UBC perspective. Within these sub-groups, we synthesized our findings into categories: benefits, risks/challenges, and strategies for moving forward. The UBC perspective used key words, including, “farm-to-institution” (FTI), “farm-to-school” and “food sustainability.” The Sodexo team used search engines to conduct literature research, consisting of keywords such as “local food,” “farm-to-healthcare,” “farm-to-cafeteria,” “food safety,” “Sodexo,” and “GFS.” We combined this literature research with the information that we received from our interviewees to successfully analyze, interpret, and relate the key issues and findings of our project, which future LFS 450 classes can build upon. In regards to findings and outcomes, through our meeting with our interviewees, it was determined that a number of steps are needed to occur in order to create a successful partnership between the UBC Farm and Sodexo at the UBC Hospital (Personal Communication: Moubarak, February 19, 2014; Mansfield, March 12, 2014). There are currently many barriers of success, including concerns over food safety and cost, which are two primary areas our group addressed. Moreover, foods service companies such as Sodexo require thorough third-party certification such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) or Canada GAP certification. In terms of specific recommendations, we have concluded five primary strategies for the UBC Farm and Sodexo to follow. These include, first ensuring that Shannon gains internal buy-in from the UBC Farm staff by ensuring that all farm workers are aware of the benefits of this unique opportunity. Secondly, Sodexo needs to increase local food purchasing by January 2015 through the help of the UBC farm establishing purchasing guidelines. Next, the UBC Farm needs to become a compliant brand through GFS. A “Learning Lab” will be formed, which will involve all stakeholders and begin in September 2014 to gain commitment to process. Lastly, we recommend that the UBC Farm creates and presents a produce supply proposal for Sodexo’s approval. This proposal can be created through the help of future LFS 450 groups, who can provide additional research on detailed logistical barriers and strategies prevalent in this partnership. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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