SPRINGFIELD – Baystate Medical Center will join Americans from all 50 states who will celebrate the fourth annual Food Day on Oct. 24 by participating in special food events throughout the month in celebration of healthy, affordable, local and sustainable food.
“Baystate Medical Center is committed to supporting a sustainable foods program as a way to provide healthy, fresh, locally-grown ingredients in meals served to our patients, as well as to patrons in our cafeterias,” said Nancy Robinson, director of Patient and Guest Services for Baystate Health.
“We are proud of our role in supporting the economic, environmental, and public health of our community, and for participating in this year’s Food Day as a way to inspire Americans to change their diets and to buy local. As leaders in the Greater Massachusetts Healthy Food in Healthcare workgroup, along with our signed pledge to the Healthier Hospitals Initiative food challenge, we are committed to the good health of our communities,” she added.
Matthew Perpetua, manager of Supply Chain & Commissary Operations for Baystate Medical Center’s Food and Nutrition Services, noted that at this time of year Western Massachusetts farms deliver a “cornucopia of fresh produce as part of their annual fall harvest.”
“At peak harvest times throughout the year, we purchase as much as 30 percent of our produce from local farms such as Czajkowski Farm in Hadley and others sourced through a local produce distributor. In addition to produce, approximately 20 percent of our milk is also sourced directly from Western Massachusetts dairy farms, including Mapleline Farm in Hadley and Our Family Farms in Greenfield, a cooperative of area dairy farmers,” said Perpetua.
“As part of our Food Day activities, we hope to promote and encourage more people to practice purchasing locally, sustainable grown and produced foods for the benefit and health of our surrounding communities,” he added.
Each Thursday in October, chefs in the Baystate kitchen will be preparing a healthy soup or entrée made using locally-grown produce for purchase by visitors, patients and staff in the hospital’s Daly Building cafeteria.
Among the recipes, printed copies of which will be available in the cafeteria at a special Food Day table hosted by clinical nutrition staff from the hospital’s Department of Food and Nutrition Services, will be: Sweet and Sour Eggplant with Tomatoes and Chickpeas, Gingered Winter Squash and Root Vegetable Soup, Kale or Swiss Chard, Beans and Penne, and Chef Gordon Hamersley’s Roasted Vegetable Stew with Garlic Crumble Crust.
In addition to the free recipes, dietitians each Thursday will also be serving up free small tastes of the recipe which can be purchased as a meal in the cafeteria the following week, as well as listings of area summer and winter farmers markets.
“Most Americans want to have healthier diets, and Food Day is a great opportunity to break a bad habit or to start new, healthy habits with their own diets,” said Lilia Smelkova, Food Day national coordinator, noting at food events across the country they hope to connect the dots between the food on people’s plates and their health.
“Americans are not known for their healthy eating habits, contributing to the obesity epidemic, as well as diabetes, heart disease and many other health problems,” noted Paula Serafino-Cross, R.D., a clinical dietitian in Food and Nutrition Services at Baystate Medical Center.
“A healthy eating plan includes eating ‘closer to the ground’ with more local fruits and vegetables and cooking from scratch when possible,” she added, noting healthy eating needs to be combined with eating smaller portions to maintain a healthy weight.
To encourage healthy eating, Serafino-Cross said anyone visiting their table in the cafeteria will be eligible for a weekly raffle of a box of fresh vegetables from Enterprise Farm in Whately. Enterprise Farms provides a summer farm share for Baystate employees who participate in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share. Also, those non-winners from previous weeks will have their names placed in a drawing on Food Day, Oct. 24, with three prizes: a winter share and box of fresh vegetables donated by Mountain View Farms in Easthampton, another participant in the CSA farm share for Baystate employees, and a gift basket filled with local foods. The employee farm share program is overseen by Baystate Healthy, the hospital’s employee wellness program. Also, three bushels of locally-grown apples will be handed out on Food Day to visitors and staff.
Food Day is a nationwide celebration started by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.
For more information on Baystate Medical Center, visit baystatehealth.org/bmc.