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KCH Expands Dietary Initiative

February 4, 2019, 2:45 PM HST (Updated February 4, 2019, 2:45 PM)
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Kona Community Hospital expanded its ongoing healthy dietary initiative to include more organic, locally-grown ingredients. The initiative ‘Ai Pono, Ho‘omaka ana—Eat Healthy, New Beginnings—launched in September 2018, also welcomed a vegan chef to the team to bring creative plant-based entrees to the hospital’s Ginger Café.

KCH Dietary Employees. Courtesy photo.

The hospital reached a local food purchase rate of 25% in November, 2018. With the recent addition of produce vendor, Adaptations Inc, the hospital will see an even higher percentage of local, organic foods in the Ginger Café and in patient meals.

Adaptations Inc sources from 70 Hawai‘i Island farms and offers delivery to the hospital twice weekly. Maureen Datta, co-owner of Adaptations, cites the mutually beneficial relationship in providing local food to the hospital, “Good food is good medicine,” said Datta. “Farm fresh produce harvested to order is bursting with nutrition and doesn’t travel through the traditional supply chain from off-island. A hospital’s cocern is health and our food hub enables the cafeteria team to focus on providing tasty healthful meals for their patients, staff and visitors.” Adaptations’ role in managing the quality control, food safety concerns, availability, invoicing, consolidation and timing logistics for the hospital make it easier for the hospital to source local food.

KCH Cooks with Vegan Chef Hyejin Terry. Courtesy photo.

Ginger Café diners and hospital patients select from a meat and a plant-based meal option daily. House favorites such as chicken adobo, kalua pork and cabbage, and beef tacos compliment the new vegan/vegetarian meals requested by an increasing number of people addressing health and environmental concerns.

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Hyejin Terry, Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners chef, specializes in vegan cuisine. She most recently served as a Cook and Baker at Sweet Cane Café in Hilo. Terry brings a skill in preparing vegan dishes that appeal to the most faithful meat eaters. Terry describes her cooking style as “hearty, comfort food” stemming from her Southern U.S. roots.

Dietary Manager, Obed Hooper prepares Ulu for Vegan Stir Fry. Courtesy photo.

“This year we are turning our focus to bringing fresh, cooked from scratch meals to our patients”, says Judy Donovan, Marketing and Strategic Planning Director at Kona Community Hospital. The effort stems from the hospital’s commitment to make healthy choices easier as a Blue Zones Project. The Ginger Café was the first hospital on Hawai‘i Island to earn certification as a Blue Zones Project ApprovedTM restaurant.

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