Hospital Food Waste: Reducing Waste and Cost to our Health Care System and Environment

Saber, D.A., Azizi, R., Dreyer, S., Sanford, D., Nadeau, H., (February 25, 2022) “Hospital Food Waste: Reducing Waste and Cost to our Health Care System and Environment” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing 27(2). [open access]

Abstract: Food waste economically and environmentally impacts every industry in the U.S., including healthcare systems. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Hierarchy provided the framework for this study that examined how hospitals in one rural northeastern state processes food waste. Methods included semi-structured interviews with hospital nutrition service experts were conducted at seven facilities across the state. Findings indicate: (1) food is largely disposed of via in-sink disposal processes, making quantification difficult; (2) food donation is a viable humanitarian and waste prevention strategy, but is not widely used because of litigious concerns; and (3) culinary education promotes food repurposing strategies. The discussion highlights the need for nurse leaders to inform policy makers about changes that could positively impact the environment while reducing the waste stream and hospital expenditures.

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