HAMILTON — Halloween witches bearing delicious, good food and rotten, scary food plates will, this Friday, October 31 at 12 noon, join hospital staff mobilizing to keep the in-house kitchen at St. Peter’s cooking.
Recently Hamilton Health Sciences announced that the on-site kitchen at St. Peter’s would be closed and patient meals outsourced. But with a focus on seniors’ care and patients with chronic illness, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 7800 says maintaining the in-hospital capacity at St. Peter’s to provide patients with healthy, nutritious and appetizing meals while in hospitals, should be the priority.
“Closing down the hospital kitchen and outsourcing patient meal preparation is the opposite of what the hospital should be doing. Rather we should be making the food more appealing for ill patients to eat. That means sourcing local fresh produce from the amazing farm belt next door in Niagara and cooking everything from scratch in-house at the hospital kitchen,” says CUPE 7800 president Dave Murphy.
Last year when the Ontario government passed the Local Food Act, CUPE and its hospital division, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) encouraged the province to move quickly on implementing the local food procurement targets for the public sector – including hospitals – provisions in the Act. Recently OCHU launched a “Keep Hospitals Cooking” campaign. There are many reasons the province has a vested interested in keeping hospital kitchens open, says OCHU president Michael Hurley. “Chief among them are better quality meals that patients will actually eat and the potential for hospitals to support local farmers and local economies by buying food grown nearby.”
Hurley will join Murphy and Hamilton area hospital workers for the noon rally Friday at the front of St. Peter’s Hospital on Maplewood Avenue.
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