Michigan hospital cultivates crops for healthy eating

Saint Joseph Mercy Health’s farm-to-tray program thriving

June 13—Saint Joseph Mercy Health System is part of a growing national movement to give hospital food a good name. The Ypsilanti, Michigan, hospital has its own tiny farm with a pair of hoop houses for growing crops year-round and a weekly farmer's market that regularly sells out of produce and cut flowers.

"We know our patients can't get well on a package of pudding with 50 ingredients and few vitamins and minerals. They need food rich in micronutrients. Those are best prepared from fresh food," says Lisa McDowell, MS, RD, CNSD. The four-acre farm debuted in April 2010 with a single hoop house with a 300-square-foot footprint. A second hoop house was added later that year.

Over the course of the year, the farm grows chard, kale, root vegetables, salad mix, garlic, carrots, cilantro and radishes.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
regions hospital exterior

One of our new concepts, YumMarket, is a play off our YumPower brand that we have out in the community. We use YumPower in K-12 schools, and there’s a kiosk in a nearby minor league ballpark. We feature only better-for-you choices, such as fresh-made pizzas, sandwiches and healthy grain salads. We want people to know we are taking care of people here the same way we are in the overall community.

Ideas and Innovation
herb garden wall

In high-volume operations, few look at herb gardens as the end-all-be-all budgeting solution. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a return on the investment. The value, operators say, is in the message herb gardens and herb walls send—that an operation uses ingredients that are fresh, sustainable and healthy. Here’s how the growing areas have paid off at three operations.

A cafeteria wall at Miles River Middle School in South Hamilton, Mass., houses three rows of hydroponic lettuce spearheaded by an interdisciplinary group of health, science, math, technology and foodservice employees...
Managing Your Business
restaurant uniforms illustration

The standard foodservice uniform has undergone a makeover. Whether to make the job more appealing or extend personality to the guest, restaurants are allowing workers to express their individuality through what they wear, from T-shirts to bandannas to hipster-style aprons. Even in more conservative operations, staff can show their personality through uniforms, now offered in a wide range of colors, fits and styles. In choosing uniforms, operators also are weighing the message their workers’ wear sends, be it one of culinary skill and expertise, or a sense of camaraderie with the community...

Ideas and Innovation
rooster illustration

Sustainability is such a priority for Santa Rosa Junior College’s culinary arts program that produce often doesn’t even hit the cooler before becoming a meal. Students quickly transform the bounty of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and more, harvested from the college’s own farm, into restaurant-quality dishes at the Culinary Cafe and Bakery. They learn the basics of agriculture, practice pivoting a menu based on seasonality, and compost as they cook.

It’s little wonder the program recently placed first in the CAFE/Kendall College Green Awards: This Northern California community...

FSD Resources