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
chicken herbs

We make and broadcast short YouTube videos on TV monitors to educate our customers about cooking techniques, like how to cut up a chicken or what herbs and spices go well together. The monitors also are used to display daily menus, nutritional and allergen information, upcoming foodservice events and local weather forecasts.

Managing Your Business
wurster west may 2016

At a nearly 150-year-old university, every stone column and classroom has treasured stories to tell. But with that history come the logistical challenges of operating in outdated spaces—especially for foodservice. Such is the case at University of California at Berkeley, where longtime cafe Ramona’s in Wurster Hall closed in March to make way for an updated, as-yet unnamed concept.

With little more than a steam table and coolers, Ramona’s was limited by its lack of ventilation. And, as a former classroom space, it never was intended to function for foodservice, says Jennifer Wolch...

Ideas and Innovation
leftovers containers

We use our Menu Forward idea to empower staff to develop menu items and keep leftovers in check. Product left at the end of service may be claimed by any station to become part of a new item within six weeks. I’m happy to see my star team fighting for their ideas and products; the benefit to food cost is spot-on, and my freezer has no mystery items lurking in the corner.

Ideas and Innovation
food allergy

When potential students come to campus, we match them with a student from our allergy support group for a tour of our dining facilities. The ambassador helps the potential student to understand how they navigated campus with their food allergy. This showcases what we do for allergies on campus, and is a highly successful way to make the students feel good about dining.

FSD Resources