By Kaitlin Haskins, Communications Manager (outgoing)

Posted August 28, 2015


Farm to Elder Care in Virginia

Farm-to-Table Dining Hits the Retirement Home

The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Take Part.

"Green beans are a “touchy” subject at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, where preferences fall on either side of the Mason-Dixon: soft-cooked Southern-style for some, crisp sautéed Northern-style for others. But diners are united in just how good they’ve been this summer. 'The freshness of the green beans really comes through, no matter how they like it,' said VMRC’s chef, Eric Phipps.

"Since early summer, those beans haven’t had to travel far. Just down the road, the five-acre Farm at Willow Run, staffed by volunteers and six work-study students from neighboringEastern Mennonite University, has produced thousands of pounds of produce—green beans, corn, heirloom tomatoes, white potatoes, and squash (sweet, spaghetti, and butternut)—all of which have been delivered to VMRC’s dining services door. And the residents of the Harrisonburg, Virginia, facility aren’t alone. Call it farm-to-retirement-home-table dining: Just as schools and hospitals increasingly work to source their menus closer to home, retirement and assisted living communities are striving to serve more local food.

"Though good, fresh food is central philosophy to holistic health care, the path to it is often mired with roadblocks. Institutions that don’t have their own farmland like VMRC may struggle to incorporate local vendors into their contracts with large distributors. Likewise, it can be a challenge for small farms to be able to guarantee food delivery in large enough quantities, in time to meet deadlines, and with proper liability coverage. Anchor institution chefs, dietitians, and consumers understand the appeal of fresh local produce, but the more frequent deliveries required by smaller outfits don’t fit the large-scale corporate food buying and distribution model."

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