Leslie Carson (centre) is joined in this photo at St. Joseph's by Guelph MPP Liz Sandals (left) and Ontario's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Carol Mitchell.

Leslie Carson is giving hospital food a good name.

Carson, manager of food and nutrition services for Guelph’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre, was recognized last week, along with Rowe Farms, for being committed to quality local food, in a new report called Ontario Local Food Champions.

The report, from Ontario’s Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, recognizes leaders from public institutions and the agriculture sector that have taken exceptional steps to incorporate more Ontario food onto the plates of municipalities and public institutions.

Carson was lauded for “overcoming operational barriers” to provide more Ontario food to clients in a health-care facility. Her approach has proven to have many upsides, especially with patients and residents, after she and her team began offering salads and hot dishes made with Ontario foods. The satisfaction rate with food service at St. Joseph’s rocketed to 87 per cent, compared to the provincial average of 60 per cent.

Carson says the main way she moved the opinion meter on her facility’s food was by eschewing ready-prepared food. Read her story in my Urban Cowboy column in the Guelph Mercury.