Assemble the team

Reducing food waste

Because behavior change drives many food waste reduction strategies, you will need a group of involved stakeholders who are ready for change. 

“Getting buy-in from the staff is critical to making a zero waste strategy work. Everyone has to believe in the cause, and proper training is critical.”
– Jeff Hogan, former Montefiore Medical Center energy and sustainability manager

Core team

The core team will make the case to leadership, conduct the baseline, create a plan, implement strategies, engage internal and external stakeholders, and measure and track progress toward goals. You may want to designate a leader or leaders to oversee the process as a whole. The core team may include: 

  • Sustainability professionals 
  • Food service professionals
  • Environmental services professionals

Internal stakeholders

Consult with staff from throughout your health system to ensure maximum support, impact, and connection to overall sustainability programming, community benefit, and other strategic priorities. Determine if there are governance and leadership structures such as committees in place to provide internal resources. Internal stakeholders may include:

  • C-Suite and executive leadership
  • Community and population health, and community benefit
  • Public relations and marketing

A food waste team gathers around a chart to review data

External stakeholders

Develop connections with external partners to facilitate food rescue and donation efforts, and take advantage of composting, animal feeding, and other recycling opportunities. External stakeholders may include:

  • Community organizations, food banks, and local nonprofits
  • Waste management business partners 
  • Food service and farm business partners

Train your team

Shifting from a culture where wasted food is the norm to one where wasted food is a rarity will take time but will ultimately be rewarding. The first step is training your food service staff on why it is important to reduce food waste and how your organization plans to do it. Protocols for source reduction, donation, and food recycling will need to be ingrained over time. Consider rewarding your team members when food waste goals are met or when they come up with their own ideas for improvements.

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