Hamilton Health Sciences was faced with the decision to either continue feeding patients with a percentage of locally- and home-made meals, or with trucked-in, 100 percent microwaveable foods in plastic containers provided by a non-local, multinational food company, Compass Group Canada. Switching to the latter would mean closing in-house hospital kitchens and replacing their services with a 100 percent outsourced, 10-year contract.
On Thursday June 25th at 3:00 pm, Chef Nancy Henley, a volunteer, citizen, and food expert who owns Tree House Kitchen, addressed the packed house of the HHS Board of Directors, and reminded them of the HHS vision statement “Best Care For All.” Nancy’s expertise is grounded in being an Interprovincial Red Seal Chef, having a Bachelor of Commerce in Hotel and Food Administration from the University of Guelph (which includes institutional food administration) and being a food educator with a specific interest in food literacy that connects people to nourishing foods. Along with her speech and a visualizing exercise, Nancy submitted this letter.
Sadly, the HHS has since approved the new contract. They did note that Nancy’s presentation had board members discussing anew contractual quality assurances, performance measures, and cancelation terms should quality be of concern. The Hamilton Spectator reported on the issue, citing Nancy.
With firm roots in our community, Chef Nancy and Tree House Kitchen have plans to examine (1) specific ingredient and sourcing lists in the new foods; (2) HHS and Compass’ definition of local sourcing; (3) leaching of microwave plastics into the foods; (4) the recycling process of the plastic containers; and, (5) patient satisfaction surveys. Findings and conclusions from these studies will be shared with HHS and made public.