Martinsburg VA Wins Sustainability Award

FoodService Director - News - Martinsburg VA Wins Sustainability AwardMARTINSBURG, W.Va.—The 577-bed Martinsburg VA Medical Center was awarded the 2009 VA Sustainability Achievement Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Food and Nutrition staff was given the award for its Waste Watchers program, which reduces the department’s waste. The Waste Watchers program focuses waste reduction efforts in three areas: source reduction, food donation and composting.

The first step in the program was to track how much waste was created. The staff manually weighed and tracked pre-consumer waste in April 2008. They found that about 1,500 pounds of pre-consumer food waste was created each week. In December 2009, an electronic tracking system was implemented to help track waste. Then the department started reducing waste at the source. “We started looking at better forecasting,” said Annemarie Price, operations manager. “Unfortunately, there is going to be food waste. We have a patient cafeteria and we strive to offer options. We want the very last veteran to get the same selection as everybody else. This program has helped us look at food waste and reduce it.”

FoodService Director - News - Martinsburg VA Wins Sustainability AwardThe next step was composting pre-consumer waste, which began in May 2009. “After every meal in the cafeteria, we put any waste in biodegradable bags,” Price said. “We store these bags in our freezers so that the local farmer who takes our compost only has to come twice a month for pick ups.”

The third part of the program is donating leftover food to a local non-profit, Potomac Highlands Support Services, which has veteran housing on the hospital’s campus. Leftover meals from the cafeteria are donated to the organization.
Since starting the Waste Watchers program, food waste has decreased by 80% to 300 pounds per week.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
rolling silverware

Ensuring that employees regularly complete the busywork missing from their daily checklist can be a challenge, but these tasks often help an operation run efficiently with fewer unexpected costs. At Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Regional Executive Chef Dustin Cochran has found a solution to ensure his walk-in coolers always have a clean vent. Cochran starts with a thorough cleaning of the vent, then slips a hairnet over it to catch the dust. Instead of getting employees to deep clean the vents, they need only replace the hairnet.

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

FSD Resources