A food switch might be coming for residents of Heritage Manor in Fort St. John.
The seniors’ residence is currently one of four facilities across the northeast being considered to undergo a change from freshly prepared to pre-packaged meals.
The regional director of support services is currently taste testing and trialing pre-prepared foods at the four facilities under the Northern Health’s jurisdiction, says Mike Hoefer, executive director of capital planning and support services with the health authority.
Hoefer says the idea behind the switch comes down to both a personnel issue and knowing that the right products and recipes are being used in those meals. He says if a cook can’t work one day, there may be problems in preparing meals. He also says that, in scratch cooking, there can be difficulties in knowing exactly what products are being used and whether they meet Canada’s Food Guide.
Another factor being considered in the switch is the hiring and retention of qualified staff, especially in certain areas in the north. Although Hoefner says it would be only slightly less expensive to purchase pre-prepared meals, the decision isn’t being based solely on costs.
He says there is more of a selection available for residents if pre-packaged meals are used and information is more readily available about what ingredients are in those meals. However, he says the taste testing and trials are being done to ensure the pre-packaged dinners meet Northern Health’s core menu and nutritional standards.
According to Hoefer, there are already five facilities that use pre-prepared food products, but the new meals being tested are of an even higher quality.
A decision on the switch is not expected to be made until the fall.