Prosperity and Health: Adressing Food Waste Management Challenges in Hospitals

SDGs 12: Responsible consumption and production| SDGs 3: Good health and well-being

As food service institutions, hospitals bear significant responsibility in ensuring patients’ nutritional needs are met to support the healing process through food intake. However, there are often issues regarding the high amount of food waste generated by hospitals. This phenomenon brings negative impacts not only in terms of budget efficiency but also on the suboptimal fulfillment of patients’ nutritional needs and has adverse effects on the environment.

Several factors can trigger high food waste in hospitals. These factors include a decrease in patients’ appetite, conditions requiring patients to fast, dislike for the food served, lack of motivation and environmental support for patients to finish their meals, as well as physiological issues such as nausea and discomfort in the digestive organs (Sanson et al., 2018).

Research indicates that hospitals producing 6640 meal portions per week can generate up to 24 tons of food waste (Alshqaqeep, 2017). This finding aligns with the research conducted by R. Dwi Budiningsari, Ph.D., a faculty member of the Department of Nutrition Health at FK-KMK UGM, who observed food waste among patients at a hospital in Yogyakarta. In the “Institutional Food Service Management” webinar on January 16, 2024, Budiningsari noted that patient satisfaction with the hospital diet was pretty good. However, some patients only consumed 50% or 25% of their meals.

The question arises: Can hospital food service institutions reduce food waste production? How can we achieve sustainable development goals related to responsible consumption and production? In the same webinar, Marina Hardiyanti, M.Sc., a faculty member of the Department of Nutrition Health, provided several alternative solutions to reduce food waste in institutional food service, including: 1) Menu Cycle Modification and Recipe Development: Dietitians can adapt menu cycles, develop recipes, and innovate menus according to patients’ food preferences, 2) Support for Challenged Patients: Dietitians can help encourage caregivers to support and motivate patients during meals, especially when patients face challenges, 3) Careful Diet Recommendations: Dietitians must provide careful diet recommendations, especially in adjusting meal combinations and textures, 4) Utilize Food Waste: Hospitals can utilize food waste as an energy source through appropriate processing, 5) Food Waste Utilization as Compost: Food waste can be used as compost to produce food crops, such as vegetables, which the hospital can use, 6) Interprofessional Collaboration: Dietitians can collaborate with doctors and nurses to help patients improve their food intake through an interprofessional approach.

Food waste management remains a challenge, but these alternative solutions can be pursued to reduce food waste production in hospitals. Awareness and collaboration between hospitals as producers and patients as consumers are crucial in achieving sustainable development goals, especially in SDG numbers 12 and 3, which involve responsible consumption and production and ensure healthy and prosperous lives. (Contributor: Marina/Department of Nutrition Health. Photo source: