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Government Allows Nursing Homes to Harvest Gardens

Many nursing homes and extended care facilities include a garden on their grounds. Gardening has long been recognized as a healthy activity for persons of all ages. Tending and nurturing plants from seedling to maturity is good for the body, mind and spirit. On September 7, 2011 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have clarified their policy in a letter in regard to bringing the harvest to the facility table. As long as proper care is taken to prevent food-borne illnesses by using safe food handling practices, food harvested in the facility garden can be used for consumption for the resident population. Nursing homes with gardens are compliant with the food procurement requirements at 42 CFR483.35(i), Sanitary Conditions, F371 as long as the facility has and follows policies and procedures for maintaining the gardens. Surveyors should request the policy and procedures for maintaining nursing home gardens if there is an outbreak of food-borne illness and the facility’s primary food service source has been ruled out as the cause of the outbreak. Facilities should report all outbreaks of food-borne illnesses to their local health department. If there are local or State requirements related to food grown on the facility grounds for resident consumption, facilities are to be in compliance with the specific State requirement.  The good news is that residents can now benefit from a variety of garden fresh foods they have grown themselves, derive an alternative work-out option for strength and flexibility training, and enjoy a happy calmer state of mind.  Click the following link to read the entire CMS documents:

http://www.cms.gov/Surveycertificationgeninfo/downloads/ SCLetter11_38.pdf