Each week, members of the culinary team at Seattle Children’s Hospital meet to discuss purchasing decisions for the kitchen, reviewing not only the cost of potential ingredients but how they fare on a series of sustainability attributes such as whether they are locally sourced or antibiotic-free.
“We use all of those traits when we're making a decision as to whether or not we're going to essentially move our purchasing dollar elsewhere,” says Gina Sadowski, director of nutrition, culinary and retail at the hospital.
Doubling down on local sourcing, Seattle Children’s also has access to produce from its in-house organic garden, which was started several years ago and has since expanded from herbs to include more than 30 different types of fruits and vegetables. Produce from the garden is used in the hospital’s food pantry as well as in side dishes and entrees served at retail.
With a little planning, the culinary team can place specific orders through the garden and incorporate items such as tomatoes and zucchini into the patient menu. “We're actually purchasing from ourselves in a hyperlocal micro-market, if you will,” says Sadowski.
The hospital’s retail cafe offers plant-forward options such as buddha bowls, and on the patient menu, smoothies made with fresh produce and fresh-pressed juices such as carrot and ginger are favorites.
With so much emphasis on sustainable purchasing, Seattle Children’s makes a point to educate guests about the ingredients that end up on the menu. Information about the organic produce and cage-free eggs the hospital uses, for example, is called out on patient menus and on digital screens inside its retail location.
“We think it's important for people to know what it is they're getting,” Sadowski says, “and the more exposure to it, the more it may influence their personal choices at home as well.”