It is an alarming situation because food waste in hospitals and care homes are on an all time high. Around 40 percent of food purchased ends up in the waste bin. This is not only an unnecessary waste, it is also unnecessary use of the food budget. Research carried out in Dutch hospitals shows that hospitals could save between € 50,000 to € 150,000 per hospital (depending on the type and size of care facility).
According to a report on food waste from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of our food goes uneaten—more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. In a hospital setting, specific rules and regulations make it even more challenging to not waste food. According to Modern Healthcare, hospitals generate roughly three pounds of total waste per bed per day. Expired foods, overproduction, and returned patient food all contribute to food waste.
How to reduce food waste?
Tip #1: Track food waste and identify areas of overproduction. Raising awareness of what was being thrown away, making the actual costs more visible, making adjustments in purchasing, production, menus and training staff, all contributes to the reduction in waste.
Tip #2: Another key strategy for reducing waste could be a Room Service model, which can reduce food waste by about 30%. Patients order off a large, colorful menu, offering a wide variety of meals, including breakfast available all day. When a patient is hungry, they can order what they want to eat between seven in the morning and eight at night. And the food is delivered within 45 minutes. This highly reduces tray waste because the patients are most likely still in the mood for the food they ordered. It is a win-win. Patients are happy and generate less wasted food, and since most of the food is made from scratch, waste in the kitchen is reduced as well.