Sunnyside Home, a 263-bed long-term care facility in Kitchener, Ontario, has been working hard to increase purchases and awareness of local foods. They recognize and value the many benefits of buying local, including the ability to communicate with local farmers and give feedback on their agricultural methods, a shorter distance for food to travel thus decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, and improved communication between local suppliers and purchasers. Sunnyside also values supporting the local economy by recycling dollars back into the Region of Waterloo, and the provincial food system. Barb Collins, manager of food and environmental services at Sunnyside, expressed her vision for supporting local foods at Sunnyside when she stated, “We spend a significant amount of money on food. We want to increase the quality of food we purchase and prepare for our residents and community. We want to find opportunities to support our local producers and keep our dollars in our community as much as possible.”
“We spend a significant amount of money on food. We want to increase the quality of food we purchase and prepare for our residents and community. We want to find opportunities to support our local producers and keep our dollars in our community as much as possible.”Barb Collins, Manager of Food and Environmental Services, Sunnyside Seniors' Services
Since the beginning of their involvement in the Public Purse Procurement (3P) Mentorship Program in March of this year, Sunnyside has been working with their team of staff to purchase more local foods from their suppliers – Sysco, Don’s Produce and Deanco Meats. Their 3P Stakeholder Meeting Luncheon allowed key stakeholders to come together to share a local meal, discuss the 3P Mentorship Program and why local food matters, and collaborate in a round-table discussion to help bring this local foods project to the next level.
This meeting proved to be an informative, enjoyable, and delicious event. With local foods showcased in every dish, guests were impressed with the quality of the meal and the support provided to local farmers. Items on the menu included cherry tomatoes from Floralane Farms in Elmira, a grilled pork sausage from Deanco Meats in Waterloo, corn on the cob from Miles Produce in Waterford, cucumbers from Jay West Farms in Elmira, and peaches from Vineland Growers in Vineland, among many other local foods.
Attendees included representatives from a variety of sectors such as the Region of Waterloo Public Health, foodservice suppliers, residents of the home, mentors from My Sustainable Canada and MealSOURCE, and foodservice staff from Sunnyside, to name a few. Through their participation in the round-table discussion, these stakeholders were able to articulate a vision for the future of Sunnyside and the Region of Waterloo food systems. This vision includes the incorporation of community gardens, education around food and sustainability, collaboration with suppliers to increase local purchases, and communication of Sunnyside’s success with local foods. In the future, Sunnyside Home is looking forward to working with Foodland Ontario to develop strategies for advertising local foods on the menu to residents and patrons of their café, expanding their local food basket sales program for staff and supportive housing tenants, further increasing local and sustainable purchases, and continuing to generate enthusiasm about supporting a local and sustainable food system in the Region of Waterloo.