University of Iowa Hospitals tackle waste issue

The foodservice department has reduced food waste, increased food donations and implemented a composting program.

Published in Healthcare Spotlight

When a media report slamming the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for the amount of pre-consumer food waste it generates came out in late 2012, Food and Nutrition Services Director Joan Dolezal knew she couldn’t ignore it. In response, Dolezal and her department not only attacked the problem, they also went beyond the complaints in the report to address other waste issues such as polystyrene usage.

The results have been impressive. In a little more than a year, Dolezal says, the department has reduced the amount of pre-consumer waste generated by nearly half, to about 7%. The 2012 report cited the healthcare system for wasting about 12% of the food it prepares for retail sales. Waste on the patient food side was not measured in the report.

In addition, the department has done away with polystyrene packaging in favor of biodegradable items, all of which can be composted. Dolezal also began a composting program that in one year has diverted 77 tons of waste from the landfill.

Finally, the department worked with the dining services department at the University of Iowa to partner with Table To Table, a local organization that distributes food to food banks and crisis centers. That effort has resulted in a threefold increase in the amount of food donated from the healthcare system—more than 2,300 pounds of food in 2013.

“The report really made us stop and take a look at our procedures,” Dolezal says. “We created a focused initiative to reduce our waste. We put together a team within our department and also worked with the university’s sustainability office to come up with a plan.”

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources