Farm Fresh Fridays at United General Hospital Begins One Month Early

Imagine a delicious lunch made with the freshest ingredients, sourced directly from local farmers and fishers.  You have a choice of wild caught salmon or a full quarter roasted pasture-raised chicken, a choice of seasonal vegetables lightly seasoned, and a rhubarb dessert.  Now imagine eating this meal at a hospital cafeteria for $7.50 per person. Don’t believe us?  Take a look at the menu below.  Last Friday, May 25th, marked the launch of 2012 Farm Fresh Fridays at United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, WA – that also won second place in the nation in the first-ever Sustainable Food Procurement Awards from Health Care Without Harm. Chef Chris Johnson has turned a hospital cafeteria into a food destination.

Chef Chris Johnson, Food Services Director at United General Hospital

In the summer of 2010, Chef Johnson started shopping at the Skagit Wholesale Market, a collaboration between the Skagit Valley Food Coop and the Puget Sound Food Network (PSFN is a project of Northwest Agriculture Business Center).  Network member farmers, fishers, food crafters and commercial and institutional buyers met every Thursday morning for 15 weeks and directly traded local food at wholesale volumes and prices (the market ran for five weeks at the same location in 2011).  Farm Fresh Friday menus showcase the products Chef Johnson purchases from farmers, fishers and food crafters each week.  “Originally we expected restaurant chefs to be most excited about this concept, but it was the food service directors at United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley and Skagit Valley Hospital in Mt Vernon who shopped most frequently,” says Lucy Norris, Director of Marketing and PSFN Project Manager, “It got us thinking about the power of institutional markets– how farms could benefit financially by selling directly to hospitals and other institutions, and play a starring role in building healthier communities.”

Farm Fresh Fridays officially began in August of 2010 and ran for a couple of months.  In 2011, Chef Johnson started Farm Fresh Friday lunches in late June through the holidays.  In 2012, PSFN has moved it’s wholesale market concept to an online pilot called North Sound Wholesale Market, powered by Local Orbit. This online “store” is comprised of foods produced by PSFN member producers in the northern counties of San Juan Island, Whatcom, Skagit and Island.  Buying wholesale local food is now as simple as purchasing a book on Amazon.  The Coho Cafe at United General Hospital and the San Juan Food Coop have agreed to be our first test buyers using the hospital kitchen as a temporary aggregation hub.  Chef Johnson is piloting the site and is offering feedback about ease of use for institutional foodservice.  NABC staff will continue to identify decentralized aggregation and distribution solutions and will gradually work with producers to invite additional buyers and expand business to business (b2b) commerce in the region. “I was going through my old menus and because of this system I have been able to start Farm Fresh Fridays a full month earlier than last year,” says Chef Johnson. He plans to continue Farm Fresh Fridays until the holidays.

Farm Fresh Friday Selections for 5/25/2012

Farm Fresh Friday opens with Memorial Day inspired lunch

Memorial Day Inspired Menu

Grilled Pasture Raised Chicken

Grilled chicken quarters with tangerine-chipotle glaze

~Osprey Hills Farms Acme, WA~

$4.50

Balsamic Glazed Grilled Salmon

Coho salmon grilled and glazed with a sweet-tangy balsamic glaze

~Nerka sea salmon Anacortes, WA~

$4.50

Braised Greens with Red Wine Vinegar

With a bit of garlic scape for some bite

~Willowood Farm, Coupeville, WA~

~Osprey Hills Farms Acme, WA~

$1.00

Potato Salad

Local fingerling and red potatoes with local eggs and a touch of garlic scape for a crunchy bite

~Willowood Farm, Coupeville, WA~

~Osprey Hills Farms Acme, WA~

~Hedlin Family Farm LaConner, WA~

$1.00

Country Rhubarb Delight

Local tart rhubarb baked into a delicious treat

~Willowood Farm, Coupeville, WA~

~Osprey Hills Farms Acme, WA~

$1.00

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