Thanks to a sizeable grant from the provincially-funded Greenbelt Fund, George Brown College and St. Michael’s Hospital have officially embarked on a partnership to enhance the hospital’s menu by integrating more local food products into the hospital’s patient meals.

“The grant allows us to engage our faculty and students in our culinary program — specifically the students in our culinary management program — to work with St. Michael’s staff to come up with innovative and healthy tasting recipes by using local ingredients,” says Winnie Chiu, director of the Food Innovation Research Studio (FIRSt) at George Brown’s Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

“We are really happy to be working with St. Michael’s hospital and to help them improve local food procurement by focusing on the public sector staff who prepare the food and helping them to cook utilizing even more local ingredients.”

In order to do this, says Chiu, faculty and students will first have to learn about how the hospital already procures and prepares its food — it’s not just about coming up with new recipes.

“What is really important here is that we are working on recipes that can be utilized,” she says.” There’s no point in developing recipes that can’t be reproduced. By teaming up with St. Michael’s our students can work with industry in a real time environment using the culinary skills they’ve developed. It allows them to understand a complex food service environment.”

While the project is still very much in the “concept” phase, Chiu anticipates that the end result will not only be a realistic and improved menu at St. Michael’s, but also the development of a training program and of wealth of ideas that can be shared with other public sector employees looking to integrate more local food into their menus.

This article first appeared on Yonge Street.