Providence hospital is selective in sourcing its wild-caught fish

December 15, 2015

It's a dish of good stewardship, and tasty as well.

The fishing vessel Kylie Lynn catches Oregon pink shrimp, a species that meets the Marine Stewardship Council's environmental standard for sustainable fishing. Under its MSC certification, Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Wash., may serve the shrimp and specific species of wild-caught Pacific cod, walleye and salmon.

The food-service department at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Wash., gets all of its fish from providers that participate in an effort to prevent overfishing in the world's oceans. It is the second hospital in North America to achieve Marine Stewardship Council Chain of Custody Certification for purchasing wild-caught seafood harvested using ecologically sound practices.

The international council was founded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) and others in 1997 after a collapse of the Grand Banks cod population off Newfoundland because of overfishing. More than 260 fisheries worldwide participate by managing their fishing operations to maintain the structure and diversity of the ecosystem, accounting for about 10 percent of the world's wild fish harvest. Their catches are sold to participating supermarkets, institutions, restaurants and retailers, including McDonald's and Target stores.

Fish in store refrigerators and on the Providence St. Peter menu are marked with a blue MSC ecolabel identifying the product of companies that follow the sustainable fishing practices endorsed by the international council.

Jerry Roundy, who oversees food services at Providence St. Peter, said the hospital also buys produce locally and uses grass-fed beef, hormone-free milk and cage-free eggs whenever those products are available.

The hospital serves about 800 patient meals and 1,500 cafeteria meals daily, Roundy said. All of its fish servings are sourced through council-approved fisheries and wholesalers.

"Our core values are to care for our people and our earth, and we want to demonstrate that with our food services," said Roundy, who is director of hospitality for two Providence hospitals. "We are fortunate in the Northwest to have so many participating fisheries."

Roundy said patients and cafeteria customers have strongly endorsed the Marine Stewardship Council certification since the hospital received it last spring.

Jerry Roundy, hospitality director at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Wash., observes as lead cook Craig Ward pan sears a salmon filet. The hospital is the second in North America to receive Marine Stewardship Council Chain of Custody Certification for purchasing only sustainably harvested fish and seafood.

Fish servings at Providence St. Peter Hospital taste good, too, although that's compliments of the hospital kitchen staff, he said. Roundy said the hospital's offerings include grilled salmon, shrimp, baked cod and tuna — all obtained from approved providers.

Roundy said he is confident that the Marine Stewardship Council properly monitors the catches of its participants. "We can trace where our fish was caught, even by which boat," he said.

Roundy participated in obtaining the certification for Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, which was the first hospital to earn the council's sustainability label. He joined Providence St. Peter in 2014 and suggested it seek certification. He said he wants to pursue Marine Stewardship Council certification for Providence Centralia Hospital in Centralia, Wash., 20 miles south of Olympia, where he also oversees food services.

Medrice Coluccio, chief executive for the Providence Southwest Washington Region, which includes those two hospitals, praised the effort. "This is about being good stewards of our environment," said Coluccio. "We are proud to be a leader in this area."

Larry Fluke, senior director of nutrition services for Renton, Wash.-based Providence Health & Services, said he hoped that Roundy's work at Providence St. Peter can be expanded beyond the two hospitals. "It definitely fits into our core values," Fluke said. "We will be watching how this works in Olympia."


Copyright © 2015 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2015 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.