Advertise With Us
Many people don't think about how the foods they eat are produced or where they come from, and how those factors can play a role in their health and the health of the environment. Recognizing these factors, Gundersen Health System set out to find ways to bring more local, sustainably produced foods to patients, visitors and staff.
In 2010, Gundersen set a goal of purchasing at least 20% of their foods locally. Buying local, sustainable foods will allow the health system to serve more foods that are fresh, not processed and in season. Foods will be brought in from approximately 100 miles away or less, rather than potentially thousands of miles away, limiting the impact on the environment. Additionally, Gundersen will support area farmers, directly impacting the region's economy.
To help Gundersen achieve this goal, the organization became one of the first buyer members of a unique cooperative called the Fifth Season Cooperative. The group connects producers of locally grown produce, meat and dairy products with buyers who want to purchase local food for their cafeterias or restaurants. The Cooperative includes producers, producer groups, food processors, distributors, buyers and cooperative workers.With six member classes, the Cooperative is one of the first of its kind in the United States.
While the "buy local" program is still in its beginning stages, Gundersen has started taking steps to get more local foods into the organization, including:
In the near future, the health system hopes to access more locally grown and processed pork and beef. This will allow all of the pork and beef products served at Gundersen to come from less than 100 miles away.
By purchasing local, sustainable foods, Gundersen is helping to improve the health of patients, visitors and staff, support the local economy and protect the environment.