RI Hospital

RI Hospital in Providence, RI

Buy Local RI partner

593 Eddy Street
Providence, RI 02903

the story behind RI Hospital

1 miles from Providence, RI 02903

(401) 444-5001

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Local Producer Profile: RI Hospital by Hannah Mellion
Published: September 15, 2010

Providence, RI - Good food is good medicine. Rhode Island Hospital is leading by example by making fresh local food available to the hundreds of doctors, staff and visitors who eat every day in its cafeteria. This August, blueberries and blackberries from Schartner Farms in Exeter were on the fruit bar. Cherry tomatoes from Confreda Farm in Cranston were on the salad bar. Summer squash and tomatoes were cooked into hot entrées. The RI Hospital farm-to-hospital program is the first of its kind in Rhode Island, and these new healthy options are getting rave reviews.

The blueberries, blackberries and other produce are being delivered through Farm Fresh RI’s Market Mobile, a wholesale local foods distribution program that delivers food from over thirty local farmers and food producers to customers across the state. Market Mobile is the key infrastructure (trucks, warehouse, invoicing, etc.) that enables RI Hospital to make a serious commitment to serving fresh locally grown foods. It’s all part of Farm Fresh RI goal of getting fresh food from local farms into more hospitals and schools.

In fact, Rhode Island Hospital is the first hospital in the state to purchase local foods, and we’re excited to have them as a Market Mobile partner. We took some staff from Rhode Island Hospital on a trip out to Schartner Farms in July to meet farmer Rich Schartner and to tour and taste the farm. Back in the cafeteria, they have done an excellent job with signs and displays to alert customers to the sources of the new local items: a signboard greets customers as they enter the cafeteria with information about the local products in the cafeteria that day. On the salad bar, the blueberries and blackberries had special signs that you couldn’t help but notice. We’re working with cafeteria staff to identify other items they can incorporate into their menus as summer changes into fall and apples and squash replace berries and tomatoes.

RI Hospital and other workplaces with cafeterias like Blue Cross Blue Shield now provide important new markets for local farmers via the Market Mobile program. The cafeterias can offer fresher, tastier options, a perk for both employees and visitors. By making healthy options more attractive, it can even help contain employers’ healthcare costs as employees practice healthier eating habits.

Encouraged by our success so far at RI Hospital, our Market Mobile team has been hard at work to expand to other hospitals across the state. We’re working through each’s needs and challenges of hospital dining facilities, and identifying local farms that are good fits.

Interested in helping us get more fresh food into other Rhode Island hospitals? You can help by donating towards our new Market Mobile warehouse, the next step for developing the necessary infrastructure for Market Mobile to properly serve institutional customers.

Do you work at a Hospital or another Health Care Institution? Or are you interested in getting involved further? Contact [email protected] for more information.