St. Luke’s Hospital takes advantage of new organic farm

The hospital is the first in Pennsylvania to start a garden on campus.

CAMP HILL, Pa.—Executive chef Paul Meola suggests a few options on his weekly lunch menu in the cafeteria at St. Luke's Hospital in Easton: vegetarian fried rice, hot pot soup, and lasagna.

Sounds good.

Even better: All the squash, broccoli, peppers, chard, and kale the chef roasts and sautes for these dishes comes from a new organic farm on five of the hospital's 500 acres.

"This is brand new for all of us. It's really thrilling," says Meola, 61, who is poised to roll out fresh zucchini pancakes and tomato jam, too.

The three-year-old Easton hospital, known as the Anderson Campus of the nonprofit St. Luke's University Health Network, is the first in Pennsylvania to start its own farm on the premises.

"The time has come for stuff like this, and you can do it anywhere, the limiting factor being land," says Edward Nawrocki, president of the Anderson Campus, who expects the farm to break even in three years.

On campuses large and small, hospitals are finding ways to transform their historically bland, unhealthy, institutional food into the kind of delicious, nutritious, and locally sourced offerings that have captivated American gastronomes for years now.

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