Are patients running out of local food at BC hospitals?
The BC Ministry of Agriculture announced $350,000 this month to help the Interior Health Authority buy more BC-grown food for patients. The official government announcement says the funding will support “a project facilitator, patient information, procurement specialist services and a food-processing specialist” to help BC processors supply the authority’s 55 facilities.
But the authority already sources approximately 30% of food locally, said Andrew Pattison, corporate director, support services, with the authority.
A study was launched in January to provide a detailed analysis of local procurement, he said, “with a goal to get as high as we can.” The baseline analysis is set for completion in September.
Development of the institutional procurement initiative has been underway since January 2018. A key question was whether institutional procurement policies would run afoul of regional and international trade agreements. BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said these prevent health authorities from buying 100% locally, while long-term procurement agreements also limit purchases.
However, Pattison said this isn’t the case. He knows of no restrictions on purchasing, so far as all suppliers are given an equal chance.
BC food suppliers to the Interior Health Authority include S&G Farms of Oliver and Golden Valley Eggs of Abbotsford.