The first phase of Jefferson Healthcare’s $20 million renovation has displaced the hospital’s food services, resulting in a partnership with the Port Townsend School District that provides temporary kitchen facilities.
The partnership mirrors the region’s growing involvement with natural and organic food, according to Arran Stark, the hospital chef.
“In many parts of the country, people think of hospitals and schools as the worst place you can eat,” Stark said.
“People have come to the hospital and seen high-quality food. We have created a situation where people walk out smiling.”
Since taking over hospital food service four years ago, Stark has supervised the development of the cafeteria into a place where people from all over town stop in for lunch or dinner.
This is on hold for the summer. The cafeteria is under construction, and its offerings to nonpatients are limited.
Beginning last week, Jefferson Healthcare culinary personnel are preparing food at Blue Heron Middle School and then packaging and transporting three daily meals to hospital patients and staff.
It is approximately 2 miles from the hospital to the school, where the cafeteria is used to prepare the hospital’s three daily meals.
While the kitchen is staffed by hospital personnel, the process is similar to that used by the school district during the school year: Blue Heron cafeteria staff prepares food that is taken to Grant Street Elementary School and Port Townsend High School.
Stark said the idea of pooling resources resulted from a meeting he had with David Engle, Port Townsend school superintendent.
Stark told Engle the hospital would be unable to maintain sanitary conditions during construction and that a temporary kitchen was needed for about two months.
Since school is out for the summer, Engle suggested that Stark take over Blue Heron.
Aside from preparing patient meals, Stark and his crew are offering several “grab and go” items that are available to hospital visitors.