Interior Health kitchen staff display a selection of local food

Interior Health kitchen staff display a selection of local food

Buying B.C. benefits all

IH working with suppliers to take advantage of all the great food that is grown, produced and processed right here in B.C.

These days there is a growing movement to buy local food.

Aside from environmental benefits and support for the local economy, there is something so rewarding about biting into a juicy peach at the peak of the season, purchased from a farmer who lives down the road.

But for an organization the size of Interior Health, which provides about five million meals each year across 55 sites, buying local isn’t such a simple matter. Food safety is key, logistics are a challenge, and the financial implications must be weighed.

Still, leaders within Interior Health believe it is important to buy fresh local food and support the local agricultural industry.

“We have been working steadily with suppliers to take advantage of all the great food that is grown, produced and processed right here in B.C.,” said Interior Health regional director of support services Alan Davies.

“We use as much locally grown produce as possible in our care homes and hospitals, plus cheeses, herbs, sausages, and more. We also highlight locally grown foods on our cafeteria menus, such as Armstrong carrots.

“We try to purchase as many fresh fruits and vegetables in season as possible. Overall, there has been a shift within Interior Health’s Food Services to provide fresher meals, with less sodium and using sustainable, green practices in our kitchens.

“We’re always looking at new areas in which we can purchase locally. I would estimate that about 25 per cent of the produce we buy is locally grown, depending on seasonal availability. If you include bread and dairy, I would say about 30 per cent of all our food is purchased from within B.C.”

Interior Health works closely with food distribution company Sysco Kelowna to ensure food is not only of good quality and locally sourced when possible, but also that strict food safety measures are in place.

“If a recall occurs, we can have every customer notified within a two to three hour period,” said Sysco Kelowna Account Executive Ryan Thiessen.

Sysco only buys products from farmers who are certified GAP (Good Agricultural Practice). These GAP codes, standards and regulations have been developed by the international food industry, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide consistent food safety and quality standards as well as meet requirements for certain trade needs and niche markets.

“Over the years, more co-ops have been established and more farmers are signing on to GAP, so we can take advantage of those items being available,” said Thiessen.

“We can pretty much guarantee a B.C. apple about eight months out of the year.”

Growers such as Kelowna-based Angelo De Simone and his son Pierre are an important part of that supply.

“It’s very good to see more people interested in buying local food, including large organizations like Interior Health. It means fewer greenhouse gas emissions and support for family-run farms like ours,” said De Simone.

Added Davies: “We are doing what we can and we encourage others in the community to look at their own purchases. B.C. has so much to offer in terms of buying locally produced food.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man looks at a plan for an ice sculpture in Polson Park that will be part of the 61st annual Vernon Winter Carnival Drive-Thru Ice Park Feb. 5-14. Construction of the ice park is underway. (Roger Knox- Morning Star)
Vernon Winter Carnival Ice Park construction begins

Virtual drive-thru event runs each day and night of 61st annual Carnival in Polson Park Feb. 5-14

Amber Piché is the new export navigator advisor for the Thompson-Okanagan region. (Photo contributed)
Exporting possible for Okanagan businesses

Provincial Export Navigator program supports entrepreneurs with free advice from export specialists

Archway Society for Domestic Peace is offering a new fundraiser in support of victims of domestic violence ahead of Valentine’s Day 2021. (Contributed)
Need a Valentine’s Day gift? Vernon’s Archway Society has you covered

Local transition house launches new fundraiser in support of domestic violence victims

Vernon’s Barb and Denis Murdoch, pictured at Lake Louise in 1987, will be inducted into the builder category of the B.C. Volleyball Hall of Fame, Class of 2021, on Feb. 15. (Murdoch family photo)
Vernon volleyball couple earn Hall of Fame call

Denis and Barb Murdoch will be inducted into B.C. Volleyball Hall of Fame in builder category

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in waters south of Vancouver Island

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

In this undated image made from a video taken by the Duke of Sussex and posted on @SaveChildrenUK by the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shows the Duchess of Sussex reading the book “Duck! Rabbit!” to their son Archie who celebrates his first birthday on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The Canadian Paediatric Society is reminding families that the process of raising a reader starts from birth. (Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK)
Canadian Paediatric Society says raising a reader starts from birth

CPS says literacy is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the government will make any necessary changes

People walk along a pedestrianized zone of Sainte-Catherine street in Montreal, Monday, May 18, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Newly released statistics point to a major drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Crime down in first 8 months of pandemic, but mental health calls rise: StatCan

The agency says violent crimes such as assault dropped significantly

Cowichan Tribes chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the first death in the First Nations community from COVID-19. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes confirms 1st death amid growing COVID-19 outbreak

Shelter-in-place order has been extended to Feb. 5

B.C. teacher gets 1 day suspension after ‘aggressively’ throwing dumbbell at student

Documents show the weight would have hit the student if they didn’t catch it

Ponderosa Primary Care Centre in Penticton is considered a model for care clinics going forward by the South Okanagan Division of Family Practice. (Monique Tamminga)
Primary Care Clinic funding could be a cure for South Okanagan Similkameen doctor shortage

Ponderosa Primary Care Centre in Penticton is a model for future care clinics and doctor recruitment

Most Read