Retired Northern Health official: Managers should have to eat the same food served in hospitals

Former chief medical health officer says hospitals are relying too much on “corporate food”

David Bowering’s breakfast offering when he was a patient at Mills Memorial Hospital last year. (David Bowering photo)

A retired senior Northern Health Authority official is convinced hospital food would be different if top managers ate the same food that’s served in their facilities.

“Rather than health system executives feeding themselves the best catered food available at their meetings while they talk about ‘quality patient-centred care,’ it should be a legal requirement that all of their snacks and catered lunches come directly from the local hospital exactly as it is fed to patients,” wrote former chief medical health officer David Bowering in a social media post.

He says reliance on what he termed “corporate food” continues to increase and that healthy, fresh food is increasingly “becoming a distant memory.”

“The better the hospital food gets, the better their own publicly-funded free lunches will taste. It’s called feedback,” Bowering says of what health executives could be eating.

Adding to his comments in a subsequent interview, Bowering says Northern Health, like other large organizations, is increasingly relying on large food-providing corporations because of cost.

READ MORE: Doctor recruiting drive showing results

“What we’re seeing is more and more decisions being made by people who are more distant now from the consequences,” he said.

“They are also increasingly risk-averse,” he says of large organizations such as Northern Health preferring mass-produced processed-food.

Locally-sourced food through local growers and suppliers throughout the region, however, would add to food freshness, quality and healthier options, Bowering adds.

He does acknowledge the challenges of providing food through the wide variety of Northern Health’s facilities located across a large swath of the province.

However, he says it’s not impossible – on Haida Gwaii, Northern Health patients are offered fresh-caught fish.

“What’s needed is a long-term vision,” says Bowering of an effort to marry local food with that provided by large corporations.

In response, Northern Health’s Eryn Collins says that when the authority’s executives do meet in its various facilities, their food is catered directly from the kitchens at those facilities.

“So they are eating what’s on the menu,” she says.

READ MORE: Drinking water concerns at northern B.C. hospital

Collins describes health care facility food services as complex and challenging in that patient meals can depend upon individual dietary requirements tied to their individual medical conditions.

“At Mills Memorial Hospital [in Terrace], for instance, meals are prepared from scratch in their kitchens,” says Collins.

“There are a variety of items prepared for each meal,” she says in adding Northern Health does use food that’s been frozen.

And while Northern Health does strive to meet a provincially-mandated target that 30 per cent of the food prepared is sourced locally, Collins says the definition of ‘local’ can be interpreted as food from within B.C.

“We do have challenges due to the size of the region,” she notes.

Still, most recent reports indicate Northern Health’s food is now 19 per cent local, up from a previous level of 16 per cent.

“We continue to look at ways to improve within the challenges and constraints we have,” says Collins.

READ MORE: Radiology improvements boost regional patient care

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Conflict expert explains how to talk to people who aren’t social distancing

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

COVID-19: Managing your mental health from isolation

Ministry of Mental Health, Addictions recommends numerous strategies for self-care during pandemic

Saanich moves forward with summer camp registration despite COVID-19

District to give full refunds if camps are cancelled

Sunday morning fire damages Victoria gas station

The fire on Fairfield Road caused $75,000 in estimated damages to tires and automotive equipment

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Most Read