handen schudden

Organic farmers and healthcare institutions work together on providing catering using more local ingredients

Why this project?

Healthy and delicious food should be part of the care that is provided. If the story of a local farmer can be linked to that food, it has a reinforcing effect. The existing collaboration between AZ Zeno and CSA Polderveld can offer inspiration to others. But every care centre kitchen and every farm have their own ways of working, their own menus, and their own needs and requirements. ZoBio aims to support six different partnerships. By bringing the stakeholders together, we can exchange knowledge and experiences. 

Methodology and expected results

Nutrition is a cornerstone of health, and providing delicious and healthy food is a major task and challenge for the healthcare sector. By working with a local farm, a story can be linked to the food, which, in turn, can increase the "appetite" of the care recipients. It is also important, when doing this, to match the supply with the demand. Not only the types of products, their volumes, and their quality but also the pre-processing – these are all parameters that have been taken into account in this EIP project. After this initial exploratory phase, a test phase can be started in which the farm supplies one or more products to a healthcare institution for a few weeks or months. Practical bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement will emerge from this test phase, and they will all vary widely due to the diversity of the kitchen organisations. Consider, for example, healthcare organisations with an in-house kitchen or a kitchen managed by an external caterer, an organisation’s ability to process fresh or non-fresh products themselves or to have to partner with a local food processor, and the flexibility of a particular kitchen's buyers to be able to include local products in their public calls for tenders.

After this test phase, the goal of the project is to be able to scale up to multiple products and to achieve a long-term collaboration. A learning network is formed between the various operations participating in the initiative. This learning network can be used as a source of inspiration and knowledge for the network partners. By communicating about the project, we will also inspire other healthcare institutions and farmers to start similar collaborations.

Target group

The project is primarily aimed at organic farmers and healthcare organisations that understand the importance of fresh, local products in the care centre kitchen. In addition to that, initial processors of primary agricultural products can help with the fine-tuning of a local, short chain by providing initial cleaning/cutting/processing steps that are not practicable in the care kitchens themselves. But the project is also aimed at caterers who are active in healthcare facilities but also elsewhere – caterers who want to incorporate local fresh produce into their meals.      

Project partners

The project is being carried out together with ILVO and BioForum. BioForum manages and coordinates the project and supports organic farmers in developing these partnerships. From within the NuHCaS collaboration initiative, Flanders' FOOD and ILVO will take responsibility for the healthcare institutions, the caterers and the initial food processors.

Logo BioForum
Flanders' FOOD logo

Keen to join?

The project launched in January 2024 and will run through December 2025 (2-year project duration). If you, as a healthcare organisation or caterer, would also like to put more local products on your table or if you, as an initial processor of agricultural products, see potential opportunities in joining these partnerships, then we would like to invite you to our learning networks. 


Greet Cleemput
Greet Cleemput
program manager
Ellen Fierens
research manager