Friday, February 24, 2012

Ontario's Local Food Champions

Report Recognizes Innovative Leaders

TORONTO, February 22, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The growth of Ontario food in our public institutions is inspiring. Today we celebrate those who change the food on plates in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and educational institutions. The Ontario's Local Food Champions report recognizes five organizations from across the food value chains that exemplify leadership and provide solutions to incorporate more Ontario food on their menus.

"In just under a year we have seen outstanding growth in sales and volumes of Ontario food served in public institutions," said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. "This report recognizes a few of the many champions working to make local food the standard at our hospitals, schools and daycares."

This year's Ontario's Local Food Champions represent the dynamic changes happening across foodservice. Here are the highlights:

School Food Action Coalition: Peel District School Board, Compass Group Canada (Chartwells), Peel Public Health and EcoSource

...Achieved designation as the first school board in Canada to implement a local food buying policy for secondary schools
...Educated students about benefits of Ontario food by inviting farmers' to visit schools
...Hosted a culinary competition for students with the winning recipe used by Peel District School Board
...Created material with Compass Group Canada to identify locally sourced menu items at 200 schools

Nutrition Group at St. Joseph's Health System, Group Purchasing Organization and My Sustainable Canada

...Sourced Ontario food for St. Joseph's Health System, Group Purchasing Organization's 28 health care facilities by including local food language in their Requests for Proposals
...Led to a 15 per cent increase in local food purchased, representing $670,000 in sales
...Created a guide to conducting origin of food audits with other health care facilities

Gordon Food Service Ontario

...Recognized as one of the largest broad line distributors in Canada, GFS assigned a team to implement a local food strategy
...Produced over 800 local products, all suitable for large institutions
...Expanded the availability of local products resulting in a 10 per cent sales boost in one year
...Established relationships with local farmers to help them adopt food safety practices and meet the packaging expectations of public institutions

Don's Produce

...Provided local produce to eight hospitals, 22 long-term care facilities, 17 universities and schools and five child care centres across southwestern Ontario
...Developed a program to help chefs and foodservice buyers increase their purchase of local produce and monitor quarterly progress
...Provided a seasonal availability chart to help chefs and foodservice managers efficiently plan their menus to incorporate local produce

University of Guelph, Hospitality Services

...Created a department-wide Sustainability Plan to support local farmers and educate consumers on and off campus about the benefits of buying local
...Supported the local economy and the 75 farmers who sell at the Elmira Auction Co-operative by purchasing products for the University of Guelph
...Succeeded in elevating local produce purchases to 45 per cent
...Identified processing and preserving methods to ensure local stays on the menu beyond harvest

These five champions were among 20 nominations received to help select the 2012 Champions. An advisory committee reviewed the nominations and assisted in the selection process. The nominations represent the impressive amount of work and dedication going into bringing more local Ontario food into public institutions. To read the stories of other nominees visit

"The Ontario government is committed to working with farmers, food processors and distributors to bring more Ontario food to our tables at home, in the school cafeteria, and in other public institutions," says Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "Supporting Ontario food contributes to healthy meals and a healthy economy."

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