Local food initiative at Pontiac Hospital

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The Shawville Hospital hosted a farmer’s market on Wednesday, in conjunction with an effort to increase the percentage of locally produced food. Program director Joanne Dubois (foreground) coordinated the effort.

Nikki Buechler

SHAWVILLE – The Pontiac Hospital was grounds for celebration on Wednesday, as staff served patients their first locally sourced luncheon. Creating a reliable supply chain to bring patients locally grown food requires a lot of effort; between the farm and plate there are many moving parts. “We deal with the farmers, the inspectors from the Ministere de l’Agriculture, des Pecheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ) and the Pontiac abattoir; then our staff make the food. There is a sense of pride because this achievement is the result of community participation. The patients also appreciate knowing their food was produced locally,” explained Joanne Dubois, the program coordinator from CISSSO (Coordinatrice des services alimentaires du CISSS de l’Outaouais).

Lunch on Wednesday consisted of a veal dish, followed by an apple crumble. “We sourced 16.5 kg of locally produced veal cubes, and the dessert was made from 60 kg of apples from Coronation Hall,” confirmed Dubois. “Our program feeds people at the Pontiac Hospital, CHSLD Pontiac, CHSLD Mansfield and Manoir Sacré-Coeur.”

The initiative to rely on produce is part of an ongoing effort at CISSSO. “At the moment, our food services program sources 49% of our food from within Quebec,” confirmed Dubois. “This is already a high percentage, compared to similar institutions, but we are going to be working to get this average higher; we are aiming for 53–54% next year, and while we are happy to be using provincial resources, we want to create opportunities for local farmers, because our patients appreciate knowing our neighbours produced the food they are eating. It builds confidence and trust in our food, and shows our commitment to providing opportunities for local producers. Our community is stronger because we look after each other, and this is one of the ways we are able to acknowledge that contribution.”

CISSSO is partnering with Équiterre and Table Agroalimentaire de l’Outaouais. MAPAQ has provided funding, and inspectors working for the organization are instrumental in identifying local producers. “There are logistics involved,” admitted Dubois. “We are lucky to have a lot of dedicated people working hard to make this happen. The amount of support and appreciation we’ve encountered has been very encouraging. Lunch was delicious, but the feedback we’ve received has been especially rewarding.”

Following the press conference, participants were given the opportunity to visit the farmer’s market hosted by the Shawville Hospital, in front of the visitor’s centre. Local producers Jardin Educatif and Les Serres Paul Amyotte were among the vendors, prominent examples of high-quality food produced in the region.