21 June 2010
An eco-friendly initiative to bring locally-sourced fruit and vegetables to the patients, staff and visitors at St Helier Hospital has been launched.
The Veg Van, a converted milk float that is powered by electricity, rolled into the hospital grounds and set up stall in the Re:treat restaurant, offering people the chance to buy fresh, local and seasonal fruit and vegetables - including strawberries, asparagus and many other portions to go towards your five-a-day. The Veg Van will be back in the restaurant every Wednesday from 12pm - 3pm.
Marilyn Knight manages the catering services at the Trust. She said: "The Veg Van is a brilliant idea. It's kind to the environment because it's driven by electricity and the locally-sourced produce means that they have cut out a lot of food miles.
"It's also very convenient for people. For example, we know that our staff lead busy lives, and we hope that giving people the chance to do some of their shopping while they're at work will not only help them to make healthy and sustainable food choices, but will also save them time. It's also really handy for our visitors - everyone is welcome to pop in to the restaurant to visit the Veg Van.
"Even the restaurant chefs have got on board by serving a Veg Van-inspired dish of the week, helping customers go home armed with ideas of how to use the seasonal produce.
"We've had a lot of positive feedback about the first visit from the Veg Van, and they seemed very busy on the stall. We're all looking forward to the regular weekly visits, and as it's run on a not-for-profit basis, all savings are passed on to the customer, which is brilliant."
The Trust signed up to the Veg Van initiative as part of the ongoing work to reduce the carbon footprint of Epsom, Sutton and St Helier hospitals. The Trust has already introduced a number of schemes to reduce energy use - including a special device that turns all of the Trust's 2,000 desktop computers to hibernate when they haven't been used in 30 minutes.
The Veg Van is part of a three year One Planet Food project, which is being delivered by local environment charities BioRegional and EcoLocal. Its aim is to improve access to fresh local food for local people, support local food producers and reduce the pollution from food miles.
It is being funded by the Big Lottery Fund's Local Food Programme, Sutton Council, NHS Sutton and Merton, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and through in-kind support from Southern Railway.