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EPA Honors Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for Food Recovery Efforts

Release Date: 04/26/2013
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – April 26, 2013) – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was honored with an EPA Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Award at this year’s CleanMed Conference in Boston, Mass. This is the first hospital in the country to join and be recognized in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge.

EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge invites organizations nationwide to save money through reducing, purchasing and lowering disposal fees for unconsumed food; supporting their community by diverting wholesome surplus food to feed people, not landfills; and reducing their environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable food management.

“By taking part in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, Beth Israel Deaconesses Medical Center is making a real difference by rethinking opportunities to reduce food waste ending up in landfills,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Sending food waste to a landfill represents a missed opportunity to reduce costs, protect the environment and help our neighbors.”

EPA recognized the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for a number of their actions to reduce food waste. For example, they were able to reduce food waste by creating meals that are made to order for patients. In the facility’s cafeteria, staff prepare items such as soups and entrees using data about how well the item has sold in the past, so they can more accurately predict how much of the item will be needed and avoid excessive leftovers that may end up unused. For food items that go unsold and cannot be used, the facility has a composting program that is used for uneaten served meals (both in the cafeteria and patient tray meals), and for kitchen scraps.

“We believe in an approach that the entire department participates in the reduction in waste and encourage our hourly staff to help shape our programs. We have been successful in pursuing our sustainability goals because all our team members participate in every step of the process and our partnership with Amy Lipman who has conducted training and outreach with our staff,” said Nora Blake, Director of Food Services/Sodexo BIDMC.

After paper, food waste comprises the greatest volume of waste going into our nation’s landfills. In 2010, 34 million tons of food waste was generated, while only three percent of this waste stream was diverted to composting. Food waste generated by local institutions, hospitals, colleges, universities and restaurants is often not waste but is actually safe, wholesome food that could potentially feed millions of Americans, according to both the US Department of Agriculture and EPA.

In 2010, more than 14 percent of households in the United States did not have regular access to enough food for an active, healthy life. EPA is working with institutions and hunger-relief organizations to increase food donations. Composting food waste also leads to important environmental outcomes. Composted food waste creates a valuable soil product that can be used to amend soils. Diverting food waste from landfills also reduces the generation of harmful gases that contribute to climate change. When excess food, leftover food and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose rapidly and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

This week hundreds of healthcare professionals gather in Boston for the CleanMed conference, which is the premier national environmental conference for leaders in health care sustainability. This year, FoodMed conference was integrated with CleanMed. FoodMed has been successful in bringing together leaders in health care food service, food distribution, public health, and sustainable agriculture, to improve food service operations in health care.

More information on EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge: (http://www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/index.htm)

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