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Baystate cafes offer local food products

June 02, 2015

Matt Perpetua, manager, Commissary Services, BMC

Food & Nutrition Services team members at Baystate Health are doing their part to carry out the health system’s mission to improve the health – including the economic health – of our communities by offering local food products.

Look around at Baystate Health cafés and you may find items straight from your neighborhood: dairy products and fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms, sweet selections from local bakeries, and other products from regional small businesses.

The shift to buying locally grown, fresh foods began in 2007 when Baystate Health became involved with CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture). More recently, Baystate Health signed the Healthy Food in Health Care pledge, which outlines steps to improve the health of patients, communities, and the environment.

During the summer and fall months, up to 40 percent of fruits and vegetables served at Baystate Health come from western Massachusetts. Our Family Farms Milk and Pierce Brothers Coffee in Greenfield, Mapleline Farms and Plainville Farms in Hadley, and Your Choice Brands granola from Longmeadow are all available.

Also, Baystate even has fresh sushi on its menu, prepared by Sekyung Jeon of Js Sushi Express of Connecticut which serves area hotels, supermarkets and hospitals.

“Since buying locally can be more expensive, adapting menus to accommodate more local ingredients hasn’t always been easy,” explains Matt Perpetua, manager of Supply Chain and Commissary Operations, Food & Nutrition Services. “Paying a little more and finding ways to offset any additional cost is worth it because the quality, taste and freshness are typically better.”

“We also are excited to support a business venture from a group called Wellspring, to be launched in Springfield soon. This worker-owned business cooperative will feature a greenhouse growing leaf lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs in large quantities,” Perpetua says. “We want to see our local economy thrive and stay resilient.”

More on the crunchy granola

As for the crunchy granola supplied locally by Your Choice Brands, Jeff Greim, as a professor of Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy Graduate studies at Bay Path University, had always been fascinated with businesses like Newman’s Own. Knowing that they donated their revenue back to charity, he wondered: was it possible to do something similar with customer input and without a celebrity name?

Greim’s neighbor and licensed home baker Beth Paulson made wonderful granola, and the idea for a business was born. Today, Your Choice Brands sells 70 to 80 pounds of granola a week to local businesses. Ten percent of revenues go to the customer’s charity of choice, and the greatest choice for customers’ donations to date has been Baystate Health Foundation.