Lehigh Valley Hospital Muhlenberg

Andrew Barsky, manager of the Lehigh Valley Hospital Muhlenberg in Bethlehem, Penn., followed Sodexo’s organic waste reduction checklist to implement a comprehensive program that has not only reduced waste, but also cost – and his client couldn’t be happier. Here’s how he did it.

Engaging Employees with Creative Incentives

After an initial attempt to establish a centralized composting program resulted in unwanted odors, the success of the new composting system established in the hospital’s kitchen relied heavily on employee buy-in.

  • Composting bins were added at every food preparation station throughout the kitchens to separate organic waste. It was up to the employees to make sure only organic waste was placed into these bins.
  • Barsky issued a unique challenge to employees: if he dumped out a bin and it contained something that was not supposed to be in it, the employees had to clean up the mess. However, if the waste bin was completely compliant, he would clean it up and the entire team would receive $20 gift cards.
  • The employees took on the challenge and were rewarded for their efforts. Their positive behavior was reinforced and the program was adopted seamlessly.

Measuring Waste for Smarter Ordering and Prep

“Start small. Pick one area to focus on. In our case, it was catering where we knew there was much to be gained from our efforts. Focusing in has helped us learn about and improve our processes, and it has absolutely reduced our costs.”

-Andrew Barsky
Manager, Lehigh Valley Hospital Muhlenberg

Barsky wanted to increase efficiency of food ordering and preparation processes. He implemented a waste tracking system to learn where inefficiencies existed.

  • Food waste was tracked through a paper waste log that helped employees identify the type and amount of organic waste.
  • After reviewing the spreadsheet, the manager was able to determine when significant amounts of food waste was caused by over-ordering or over-portioning.
  • Adjustments were made to the ordering and preparation processes, greatly reducing the amount of pre- and post-consumer food waste.

Partnering with Food Banks to Recover Food Waste

Even with more efficient processes in place, some food waste still occurred. So, Barsky came up with a plan to make sure the food he couldn’t use could be used by others.

  • First, he contacted local food banks to find out which unused food items could be donated and to establish food recovery partnerships.
  • With a food donation program in place, he raised internal awareness of the program by talking to employees about the importance of food recovery. With strong team buy-in the program continues to reduce waste while supporting the local community at the same time.