It is just before the lunch time rush in one of the busiest kitchens in the State of Vermont.
"We prepare these fresh daily. We do cheese plates for appetizers. We do crudités. We serve fresh fruits as much as possible," said Executive Chef Richard Jarmusz.
Welcome to the kitchen at Fletcher Allen Health Care which takes orders from patients from 6 o'clock in the morning to 7:15 at night. The kitchen also supplies food to the three public cafeterias, and Chef Jarmusz is in charge of it all.
"There is a lot of things I enjoy about this job and that is creativity -- for any chef is high on the list and I enjoy that very much being creative with the patient meals. Trying to create food that meets their diets, that they can eat and is healthy for them," he said.
The patients call down to order their meals. Those orders are sent to the kitchen, dietary requirements considered, then individually cooked and prepared and delivered to the patient's room within 45 minutes. From breakfast to dinner this kitchen provides 5-thousand meals a day, making it one of Vermont's largest restaurants.
And the emphasis at Fletcher Allen, like many Vermont restaurants, is on fresh, local foods. "ninety-five percent of our beef comes from the state of Vermont. We use pork from Vermont. We use chicken when it is available -- fresh veggies -- working with a company that harvests it's corn then freezes it and we buy it in bulk from them; broccoli and green beans as well," Jarmusz said.
In fact, each year Fletcher Allen spends about 1.5 million dollars on Vermont produce. "I purchase all the food for the kitchen whether it be produce, meat -- try to purchase as much local as we can -- all local as we can," said Scott Young, a Production Specialist at FAHC.
Not only does buying local help Vermont's economy and farmers, there are health reasons too. "You have all these recalls nationwide and we get a recall notice and we say well, we are serving a safe healthier product to our patients and that is what we are purchasing," Young said.
Young says they know exactly where the food comes from and have personally visited many of the farms. Roughly half of the food served in the hospital and its cafeterias are sustain ably produced. New recipes are constantly being tested depending on what is in season, and there are specials every day.
Hospital officials say their goal is simply to have the most sustainable health care food service in the country.
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