HAMILTON, ON – Over the last few weeks Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has publicly defended shutting down the hospital kitchens and contracting out patient meals to a global food processing operation outside of Hamilton. But the findings of a recent poll, show there is virtually no support in the Hamilton community for the hospital’s patient food plan.
In fact, the poll found that almost no one (3 per cent) would prefer meals prepared by a company that assembles patient meals in a plant and delivers them by truck to the hospital.
Further, 86 per cent of those interviewed between June 11 and 16, agree that if HHS really wanted to improve the quality of patient meals, it would increase the amount of food from local farms used in its kitchens and cook patient meals from scratch in the hospital kitchens.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 7800, representing nearly 4,000 HHS employees including dietary staff, commissioned the poll, which was released at a media conference in Hamilton on June 23.
“Hamilton residents and local farmers have a clear preference when it comes to hospital patient food and that’s keeping it local and cooking from scratch,” said CUPE 7800 president Dave Murphy. The findings, said Murphy are consistent with the buy local sustainability movements that are becoming common in many Ontario communities.
With 86 per cent of respondents in favour of cooking local food in the hospital kitchens, HHS should not be pursuing outsourcing patient meals to a factory operation. “The hospital is completely out of step with where the community is at which is to support local community initiatives, business and farmers.”
Even when interviewers told respondents that HHS would need to spend several million dollars to repair and renovate the hospital kitchens to cook patient meals in-house, six out of ten said the hospital has a “moral obligation” to the community to find a way to keep the kitchens open for patient meals.
Nancy Henley a local chef and cooking instructor (Tree House Kitchen) said that she believes that a local food solution, with meals cooked in hospital kitchens is best for convalescing patients. Henley has sent a letter saying just that, to the HHS board of directors.
The board is meeting Thursday, June 25 and will vote to approve or reject the factory-food deal. CUPE 7800 is scheduled to make a presentation to the HHS board at 3:00 p.m. Thursday.
The poll findings are based on telephone interviews conducted for Vector Research from June 11-16, 2015, with 564 adults (aged 18 and over) throughout the Hamilton Region.
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