Executive Chef Santana Diaz was featured on UC Davis Health's blog Cultivating Health, which spotlights people at the health care system who using innovation to make a difference in patient care.
UC Davis Medical Center's kitchen offers organic farm-to-fork meals to patients, visitors and staff. Diaz's partnership with local farms is the largest of its kind for a hospital.
"I believe it's good for patients to have food in its rawest forms, if possible," Diaz said.
The kitchen produces about 6,700 meals each day for 365 days of the year. Food and Nutrition Services staff go through 63,000 pounds of 4 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast a year. That's just one item – and we have hundreds.
"One of the great opportunities we have with the bounty of this region is getting to know our farmers and putting our boots on the ground," Diaz said. "We're able to source and forward forecast volumes of seasonal vegetables and seasonal produce. So what that does is eliminate the risk on the farmer's side of: Does he have a buyer? I think it's a win-win for everyone."
Diaz and his team are able to showcase real farms and point out exactly where they're located.
"It's the source transparency to tell you the farm names, know that the farms actually exist, and pass that healthy, nutritious food on to our patients to help them get better," Diaz said. "We have an opportunity to do it for the masses on a grander scale and for the people who need it most. I believe the cleaner food we can provide, the better off everyone will be."
Diaz explained that this farm-to-fork model can be used as a case study.
"We can say, 'Will eating better truly reduce hospital re-admissions in the future? Can it?' Diaz said. "And I believe it can."