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BC's 'farm to cafeteria' network goes national

The Public Health Association of B.C. has launched a national farm to cafeteria network set on improving the quality of food, and the amount of local food, in public institutions like schools, university campuses, and hospitals. network.

The association --- a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote public health -- has already established a provincial network that helped launch locally-sourced salad bar programs in 16 B.C. schools in 2008.

Since then, all but one are still going and six more have started up, according to Joanne Bays, provincial manager of the Farm to School BC program and the new Farm to Cafeteria Canada network. "We proved if we give these schools funding to get it going, they can keep it going," Bays told The Tyee. The goal of the new initiative is to shift focus to other public institutions, including hospitals.

"Our first step to improving our hospital food is to get more fresh, whole foods onto patient plates", stated Brendan Wyile Toal, food manager of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care in a press release. "The trend over the last few decades has been to adopt high efficiency food systems that use pre-made, outsourced meals. The problem with these foods is that patients don't really like them, and if they don't like them, they don't eat them."

According to Bays, the network is conducting a nation-wide survey of farm to cafeteria programs, and plans to use that data to develop a strategic plan.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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