Veterans Affairs focuses on cutting food waste

Pilot programs for composting and recycling fryer oil help reach waste goals.

Feb. 15—The Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) of the Department of Veterans Affairs is taking steps to decrease its waste by nearly 600,000 pounds in 2012. Recycling, composting and recycling cooking oil are just a few of the initiatives that will help the department reach that goal.

"VA is committed to cutting our waste in half by 2015, and these initiatives will be a big step toward achieving that goal," VCS Director Marilyn Iverson said in a press release. "Recycling and conservation benefits VA, the Veterans we serve and our environment."

VCS has partnered with Martinsburg (W.Va.) VA Medical Center's Nutrition and Food Service Group for a composting pilot program at the VCS Martinsburg Patriot Café location. The program began Dec. 19 and composts pre-consumer kitchen waste. Early results showed that the program was composting about 30 pounds of kitchen waste per week. Martinsburg VA Medical Center designed the original composting system, which received a VA Sustainability Achievement Award and a GreenGov Presidential Award in 2010. This pilot program will serve as the basis for composting procedures for future VCS Patriot Cafes, such as Patriot Cafes in West Palm Beach, Fla., San Francisco, San Diego and Palo Alto, Calif.

Recycling cooking oil is part of another pilot program to encourage sustainability in VCS Cafes. VCS has been working with Quest Recycling to recycle used cooking oil generated at the VCS's Patriot Cafes located in West Palm Beach, Fla., St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Temple, Texas. The department estimates it will be able to recycle approximately 583,000 pounds of cooking oil per year.

The pilot results will be analyzed to help spur a national roll out at 170 additional locations.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
employees generation multicultural

We are no longer short staffed, ever. On a given day, missing two team members from a team of 50 would leave us 96% staffed. The actual choice of wording places a positive emphasis on those that did come to serve our guests and patients. We no longer use the phrase “short staffed”; this is a game-changer when we are challenging ourselves as culture facilitators or leaders.

Ideas and Innovation
food symbols allergens

To make safe food as accessible as possible for our guests with allergies, we are creating an allergen-friendly kitchen this summer. Students and community members will be able to use our mobile app to place orders for allergen-friendly food and pick them up at the central kitchen. The kitchen will also produce grab-and-go options that will be distributed across campus.

Ideas and Innovation
construction plans drawing tools calculator

When revamping an old cafeteria or building a new retail spot, the design process can feel like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle: What needs to fit in the space, and what’s the most efficient flow for staffers, cooks, diners and more?

Cathy Estes, administrative director of nutrition services at four northern Indiana hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Health network, faced the creation of a new in-house dining program at Franciscan’s Munster hospital. Amid all the big plans, design was one of the largest undertakings.

“I was looking at 5,000 square feet on a...

Ideas and Innovation
amazon prime delivery

About 90% of our students receive financial assistance and participate in our free and reduced-price meal program. But a number of students in our district study remotely due to circumstances such as chronic illness. In January, we hired a driver to deliver meals to students who aren’t able to step into our cafeteria each day.

FSD Resources