My name is Adeline [pronounced “Adleen”] and I was very excited to join the Energy & Environment team a few weeks ago as Food Project Coordinator. What does energy and environment have to do with food, you ask? Well… quite a lot actually. We serve more than 1,300,000 meals every year across our 7 sites. If we consider the full supply chain, the food we choose, the way it is produced and the distance it travels… all of it has a major impact on our environment and energy use. That’s why we want to increase how much fresh and local food we purchase in our hospital network.
Moving toward a more sustainable food system is no small feast (pun intended). We’ve received a grant from the Greenbelt Fund to investigate the day-to-day barriers that prevent University Health Network from providing Ontario food.
The one year research project – “UHN Choices for Ontario Food” project – will look into practices and protocols in place, track local food purchases and explore food opinions and behaviors of staff, patient and visitors. We are dreaming big and going after system and culture change, and we will get everyone involved – staff, volunteers, patients, but also the hospital community as a whole! The goal? Ideating long-term viable solutions to increase UHN local food procurement.
It’s hard not to get sidetracked by talking about food because this project is very dear to me, but let me give you a short bio. I have a background in agriculture and food science from École Nationale Supérieure Agronomique of Montpellier (in the lovely South of France), but I spent the first years of my professional path moderating consumer focus groups in market research companies. I became passionate about the many habits, routines, rituals and cultural specificities involved in food consumption. I’ve taken that knowledge to help a Toronto catering company in promoting and enabling healthy eating among daycare and school children. I am now very excited to tackle – with your help – local food procurement at UHN and I’m looking forward to sharing many discussions on food with you all.
Actually, our discussion could starts right now! We are launching the Talkin’ Food Team and we want you to be part of it. If you want to receive project updates and hear more about the groundbreaking online community brainstorming coming up in July, you should absolutely sign up, right here, right now!