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On Tuesday, September 20th under crystal blue skies, hospital food service professionals, chefs, clinicians and executives, community healthcare advocates, and public officials from across Oregon and SW Washington gathered for the first ever Oregon Hospitals Green Chef Challenge at Oregon Healthy & Science University in Portland, Oregon. “The event was a twist on the annual meeting of the Oregon Healthy Food in Health Care Project of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (Oregon PSR) and highlighted the important work being done at area hospitals to create healthier eating environments for patients, staff and visitors as well as support local and sustainable food systems that are protective of human and environmental health”, explains Emma Sirois, Program Director at Oregon PSR.
The day centered on a Chef Challenge where twelve chefs from ten Oregon hospitals competed to create healthy meals from local and sustainable ingredients – featuring amazing fresh produce purchased from farmers at the OHSU Farmers Market running concurrent to the event. Participating hospitals included Adventist Medical Center, Good Shepherd Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon State Hospital, Providence Portland Medical Center/Providence Health & Services, Shriners Hospital for Children, Silverton Hospital, and St. Charles Medical Center. Team meals were required to adhere to a stringent set of sustainability and nutrition standards that ensured the meals were: free of harmful chemicals, added antibiotics and hormones; support our local agriculture community; and were heart healthy (low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and calories and high in fiber). “Watching the chefs collaboratively transform produce from the market and other sustainable ingredients into a colorful and creative heart healthy meal within an hour was inspiring on many levels. It spurred the seeds of change that hospital food has been driving towards for a few years now, good for the patient and the planet,” noted Eecole Copen, Sustainable Food Programs Coordinator & Farmers Market Manager for OHSU Food and Nutrition.
With knives flying and veggies flipping, these skilled chefs created three course meals centered on different protein sources (vegetable, meat, poultry and seafood) and presented them for judging to an expert panel that included Kelly Campbell, Executive Director of Oregon PSR; Guillermo Maciel, Policy Advisor to Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Chair; Cory Schreiber, Chef, Chef Instructor; Ivy Manning, Food Writer; and Nathan McFall, Owner/Operator, Converging Creeks Farm. "We were all amazed at the enthusiasm with which the chefs participated, and also impressed with how vibrant, creative and delicious their food was. Showing patients how delicious healthy food can be can go a long way to affecting permanent, positive change in their eating habits, and these hospitals are leading the charge and setting an excellent example in their communities," noted cookbook author Ivy Manning. "It was truly inspiring to see so many talented chefs bring their skill and creativity to the event. The beautiful and delicious food they were/are able to make, all within such challenging dietary restrictions, speaks to their exceptional understanding of how to best utilize our remarkable local ingredients,” added David McIntyre, Chef Instructor, International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland, and MC of the Hospital Green Chef Challenge.
And the award went to… the Meat Team featuring Brian Seto, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Portland, OR; TJ Seiler, Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, Portland, OR; and Jared Bowling, Good Shepherd Medical Center, Hermiston, OR, for their rendition of: Autumn Harvest Salad with Berry Balsamic Vinaigrette, Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Marinade, Vegan Chocolate Mousse. “It was an honor to have been on the winning team at the first annual Oregon Hospital Green Chef Challenge. It was indeed a challenge because there were so many talented chefs involved. This competition was important to our facility because we wanted to showcase some of our recipes that we developed to use in, or that we are currently using in our room service program. Our team goal was to present to the judges a three course meal showcasing seasonal and green ingredients that was nutritionally compliant, presented professionally with as much flavor as possible,” shared Brian Seto, Executive Chef, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.
In addition to the inspirational display of healthy cooking, the event included a presentation of the results of a summer long procurement tracking project by four Portland area hospitals assessing their economic impact on regional agricultural producers. These four hospitals: Adventist Medical Center, Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, Oregon Health & Science University and Providence Portland Medical Center tracked their purchases of produce, meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy grown and produced in Oregon and Washington and found that combined they had spent $478,346.18. Michelle Ratcliffe, PhD, Farm to School Program Manager at the Oregon Department of Agriculture was on hand to receive these impressive findings. “It is exciting to add health care facilities to the list of institutional buyers procuring Oregon bounty! As larger institutional purchasers, health care facilities are critical to stabilizing and growing local market opportunities for farmers and food processors. People look to health care facilities as weather vanes for health and wellness. Using and promoting Oregon agricultural products in the meals they serve, sends a strong message that the food we put into our bodies matters,” stated Ms. Ratcliffe.
In a time when the future of the health of our communities and citizens depends on changing the trajectory of current obesity and diet related disease trends, the health care sector has an important role to play in supporting and promoting true primary prevention with healthy food.
About Oregon Healthy Food in Health Care Project
Since 2005 the Oregon Healthy Food in Health Care Project of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility has organized Oregon hospitals to leverage their significant purchasing power and health authority to support regional markets for fresh, sustainable food, and to model healthy food choices to the public. The Project provides educational and networking opportunities; supports cross-hospital collaboration and leveraging of purchasing power; and provides tools, resources and direct technical support to participating hospitals in creating healthy, sustainable food services.