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Offsite centralization and onsite customization combine to drive Lee Memorial Health System’s expanding foodservice program.
Left to right: Kathy Moore, Food & Nutrition Director, Gulf Coast Medical Center; Diane Rasi, Food & Nutrition Director, Cape Coral Hospital; Rich Roberts, Operations Director, Culinary Solutions; Crissy Tucker, Food & Nutrition Director, Lee Memorial Hospital; Kathleen Ferraiolo, Transportation & Logistics Manager, Culinary Solutions; Deana Brill, Food & Nutrition Director, Healthpark Medical Center/Golisano Children’s Hospital; Larry Altier, System Director, Food & Nutrition, Lee Memorial Health System.
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Culinary Solutions is working with Selovita, a local organic urban farmer, to source fresh produce. Currently, the only product is hydroponically grown lettuce used in retail outlets but plans are to add other products like onions and tomatoes and to expand into supplying produce for patient dining as well.
Selovita is also growing tilapia at its site in an industrial section of Ft. Myers. The fish will be processed into filets at a separate site across the street. The water from the fish tanks, rich in nutrients, will then be used to fertilize crops at the site and also sold to other growers to help subsidize the operation.
“We had been exploring the idea of building a small greenhouse to support our agriculture needs,” Altier says. “But after meeting with the Selovita folks, we decided to strike up a partnership and they’re growing it for us. Meanwhile, we’re helping them develop market share and develop product lines.”
Altier estimates Selovita can supply about a third of Culinary Solutions’ produce needs once it’s running to capacity. It currently sources about 80% of its produce needs within a 250-mile radius during the winter months, working with Selovita and local supplier Sunfresh Produce.