Food waste is a problem that hospital food service workers are familiar with. North Adams Regional Hospital in Massachusetts has found a way to put their food scraps to use by feeding them to willing diners – pigs at a local farm.
Hospital kitchens produce a high volume of meals, and uneaten food is inevitable. As such, food service directors have to find ways to dispose of the scraps. Some may look into composting options but all kitchens want to avoid simply throwing away the uneaten food, which is a waste.
Directors who are considering taking up the same approach as North Adams can research whether there are any local farms that have pigs and are willing to take the food scraps. Taking this opportunity would prevent the scraps from going to waste and create a sustainable outreach program that will likely be noted by patrons and patients.
Lowering food waste
Though food scraps are impossible to eliminate from health care food service, high volumes can be reduced through the use of foodservice software. This technology would enable food service directors to better manage inventory and track trays. The software can take previous inventory data and project numbers that will advise the best volume of ingredients that will create the number of meals necessary without overproducing.
This technology would allow kitchen staff to lower the amount of food waste that is produced on a daily basis. Additionally, the tray tracking features will prevent cooks from creating double orders and essentially having to throw one away. Furthermore, lowering the volume of unnecessary ingredients and creating enough dishes to serve to patients and the cafeteria diners allows hospitals to cut down on their food waste, which will ultimately save the institutions money.
For the waste that is left over, food service directors can look into any number of sustainable techniques. These range from composting, to collaborating with a local pig farm, donating extra meals to homeless shelters and much more. It is a discussion that will need to be held with other departments within the hospital. It’s a great way to show patrons your institution’s commitment to sustainability and green practices. The only real question is where the extra food should go.
Whichever option hospital food services and other departments agree on will require planning and collaboration, from scheduling pick-ups and drop-offs to the volume of goods. Food service directors will have to analyze the employee roster to see whether certain staff members can be used for meal deliveries. Alternatively, recipients of the various meals and food scraps can schedule times when the products can be picked up. In either instance, storage will have to be reconfigured to allow enough room to accommodate the amount of food that will be remaining in the kitchen until it is picked up or delivered.
The opportunity presented by collaboration with a pig farm is that these animals will not only eat whole loaves of bread, they’ll happily take the leftover vegetable peels as well. Hospital kitchens can consider sending extra meals to homeless shelters and sending scraps to farms. This will allow two different parties to benefit from the extra food that’s produced by health care institutions.
The sustainability movement has been one that’s garnered much interest over the past few years. Hospital food services have the opportunity to join the movement through donations and can boost their patient satisfaction levels by doing so. There are many methods that hospitals can increase their community outreach while ensuring their food scraps and extra meals don’t go to waste.