CAFF’s Farm to Hospital Program relies on years of experience in providing Food Service Directors with Technical Assistance on procuring produce from local farms using our Farm to Cafeteria Model. In partnership with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) CAFF has successfully run a project in the San Francisco Bay Area Region to source local, sustainable fresh fruits and vegetables from family scale farms in six Bay Area Hospitals. Working with existing distributors and hospital food services, we have helped to facilitate the sale of many local farmers’ products to hospital kitchens. In this way, both CAFF and our partner hospitals hope to increase the nutrition of food served in the hospitals and the financial well-being of regional farmers and their local economies.
During 2015, the “Farm Fresh Healthcare” How-to Guide was released. It is the result of a collaboration between the CAFF and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH). The guide presents insights from the Farm Fresh Healthcare Project in hopes of providing guidance for other farm-to-institution initiatives. We are grateful for the support of the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit program for making this project possible.
In 2011, a team of hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area launched the Farm Fresh Healthcare Project (FFHP) to increase sourcing of local and organic produce from family farmers. As a result of the FFHP, ten family farmers sold nearly 67,000 pounds of produce to six Bay Area hospitals in a span of just three years! All of the farmers are small to mid-scale, grow a diverse variety of crops, and are either certified organic or use pesticide-reduction techniques such as integrated pest management. By purchasing local food, hospitals can help support farmers, preserve farmland, bolster the local economy, and connect hospital patients, staff, and visitors to the origins of their food.
In addition to goals of supporting local family farmers, protecting the environment, and bringing the freshest, healthiest food to hospitals, the project seeks to address three important challenges regarding how local food gets from the farm to the patient tray and cafeteria line:
1) Retrofits the existing supply chain to become shorter, more flexible, and more transparent
2) Supplies hospitals with fresh-cut produce from local farmers
3) Increases transparency in the supply chain
In the kitchens of John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, staff prepare local asparagus sourced from a third-generation farmer: Roscoe Zuckerman of Zucherman’s Farm in Stockton, CA. As soon as local asparagus became available, John Muir took advantage of the opportunity to feed patients and cafeteria guests with this delicious, fresh option. CAFF provided the distributor, Bay Cities, and John Muir with technical assistance to help get Zuckerman’s asparagus onto menus and available for purchase by UCSF Medical Center, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, and Washington Hospital Healthcare System—all of whom also placed orders. To tell the story to consumers and patients, CAFF created a farmer profile on Roscoe for display.