The Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance’s Serving Up Local project celebrated Local Food Week by igniting conversation around getting more local and protein-dense meats on the plates of long-term care home residents.
VG Meats, located near Simcoe, Ontario, hosted the discussions at their processing facility and cattle farm, giving a tour to the GHFFA local food procurement project long-term care teams from Durham and Halton regions and the City of Hamilton.
VG Meats, or more precisely the four Van Groningen brothers, shared their story of a business revolving around high care for their animals and a resulting high quality product. Each brother’s passion and experience plays an important role in the business, from raising cattle to butchering and processing, from food science and tenderness testing to customer service.
On May 31, 2017, representatives from long-term care, including food directors, cooks, food purchasers and dietitians, pulled on their gloves and hair nets and experienced this story in action. The group started out at VG Meats’ Simcoe processing facility for a behind-the-scenes look at the path the VG Meats products take before purchase, from butchering, portioning, infusing, smoking and packaging, to their on-site retail store. Highlighted qualities of the VG meats facility included a unique tenderness testing method – the first and only used to measure quality for customers in Canada; and full traceability that includes information on where the animal was raised, its age, and what it was fed.
The group was then invited into the Van Groningen family farmhouse for a delicious locally focused lunch prepared by their food truck staff followed by a tour of one of the family farms where cattle are raised.
Armed with the inside scoop on this unique Ontario farm/processing operation, the long-term care home teams were ready to discuss options to offer more of these local products to long-term care home residents. The VG Meat products are high in protein per gram of meat – a valuable ratio when working with $9.00 per day per resident and attempting to meet targets for high nutrition.
These teams are now in the process of considering where this unique, Ontario product can be featured on their menus, enabling them to show how long-term care homes and residents are supporting local farmers, and supplying the best proteins available to them for their residents.
The Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance (GHFFA) project, Serving Up Local, is a partnership with Durham and Halton regions and the City of Hamilton to increase the amount of local foods offered in their facilities, with a special focus on long-term care homes. We use the purchasing power of public institutions to strengthen Ontario’s agricultural sector and appeal to our residents seeking local food offerings. This project is funded with financial support from the Government of Ontario, in partnership with the Greenbelt Fund.