Powell River Voices has sent the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority a petition with 1184 names of people living in the Powell River area asking for changes to the food service at our local hospital and extended care facilities.
The problems with the food served at our local facilities were highlighted in 2016 when Boost was served for dinner instead of a meal. However, long-time residents of our community say the issue goes back to the decision to privatize food service when quality seems to have deteriorated. Powell River Voices followed through on community concerns by hosting four public information meetings, setting up a committee to work on the issue, taking pictures of the food served and the large quantities being thrown out, and organizing the petition for Healthy Food in Healthcare. In gathering names on the petition, our volunteers found people eager to talk about their experiences with institutional food and to offer suggestions on how the services could be improved.
The situation has changed since the time when the provincial government decided to privatize food services as a “non-core” part of the health system. Diet-related illnesses such as obesity and diabetes have grown into a major challenge for Medicare. The argument that the short stay of hospital patients means the quality of their meals is not that critical has been disproven by research showing that even one bad meal can seriously compromise the chances of recovery for patients. This research proves that food is medicine and the health system must provide a positive model in the food served at health facilities.
Our petition asks that the Health Authority commit to food preparation done in-house on a non-profit basis. There is an opportunity to see this achieved in Powell River. Recently, representatives of the City of Powell River met with our local MLA to request an opening be created for a local non-profit to supply food services to our local hospital and extended care facilities.
For some background, see Colleen Kimmett’s 2012 three-course inquiry from The Tyee: