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

Industry News & Opinion
nacufs award

Ohio University Director of Culinary Services Rich Neumann was on Wednesday evening awarded NACUFS’ 49th annual Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

Neumann’s foodservice career began as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. After his first day as a student cook, he says, his production manager wanted to fire him because he was striving for perfection, not—as she put it—“now and fast.” But he kept with it, eventually moving up to student manager. “If I had quit, I would not be here today,” he says.

During...

Sponsored Content
iced coffee foodservice

From International Delight ® Iced Coffee and STOK Cold Brew.

As temperatures soar, consumers look for any way they can to cool down. Much of the time, that means sipping on a cold beverage. And for the many patrons looking for a pick-me-up, iced coffee is a go-to choice, as it wakes them up and cools them down.

It’s no surprise, then, that iced coffee is a growing opportunity for operators. In Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report, 59% of consumers say they ordered iced coffee at least once in the past month from foodservice locations. With demand continuing to...

Industry News & Opinion

Oxnard Union High School District in Oxnard, Calif., is ending its meatless Mondays initiative due to cost and a lack of participation, the Camarillo Acorn reports.

Meatless Monday , which was offered on Fridays during the most recent school year, was the least popular lunch day during the week, according to school officials. The district hopes that the menu change will encourage more students to purchase school meals and help eliminate the $2 million deficit in its nutrition budget.

While 61% of students in the district qualify for free meals, only around half eat at the...

Ideas and Innovation
hc dining large

When students at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia return from summer break in August, they will be greeted with a revamped dining option located in the university’s Hill College House. Along with having air conditioning for the first time ever, the updated 300-seat eatery will include expanded hours, flexible menu offerings and a new method of managing waste. Here’s an inside look.

Expanded options

Hill House’s new dining hall will feature several self-contained stations, including a Mongolian grill, a pizza and pasta concept called The Grotto, a chefs’ table, a...

FSD Resources