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Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe 1 Rue de la Pépinière, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Towards a circular economy of food in healthcare

It has been a busy year for the MECAHF project as we have continued to develop and support a model of circular economy of food with our project partner the Hospital of Niort. In 2019 the hospital has been analysing how food waste is produced and examining how they can change the procurement process to move towards local and organic food procurement.

At the beginning of 2019, the Hospital of Niort designed a patient survey to assess hospital food services and how food waste is generated. Distributed across five different departments, the survey results indicated that whilst the quality of food is good, some improvements are needed to prevent food waste in the Hospital of Niort, such as providing different portion sizes, allowing the reuse of unopened leftovers, or offering pre-cut fruit.

The Hospital of Niort has also continued to measure food waste in the kitchen, staff canteen, and across different departments. Preliminary results from the food waste measurement were presented during a project webinar hosted by HCWH Europe in April 2019. Conducted in French, a recording of the session How to prevent food waste in hospitals is available online, along with featured presentations (in French). The Hospital of Perpignan and the Committee for Sustainable Development Health (C2DS) also presented their experiences in this webinar to inspire other hospitals in France and beyond to adopt a food strategy to prevent and reduce food waste.

In June 2019, our project partner the Hospital Center of Niort (France) hosted a workshop entitled “Food waste and nutrition in healthcare facilities: Developing a circular economy”, which brought together over 60 healthcare, nutrition, and catering professionals. Participants discussed how the healthcare sector can play a leadership role in reducing the environmental impact of food and making it a fundamental part of health and healing. Many inspiring initiatives were presented during the workshop, with representatives from the French Ministry of Agriculture, the Regional Health Agency of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and the Agency for the Environment and Energy Management also engaged in the conversation, demonstrating a commitment for a healthier and more sustainable food system within healthcare. A workshop report is available in French, as well as a series of short interviews from the workshop.

Currently, the Hospital of Niort is finalising its analysis of hospital food purchases and adapting their menus to increase the provision of more fresh, local, and organic products. The Hospital is already meeting with different local and organic farmers to discuss which products they could provide to the hospital, and explore further to collaborate more closely; these conversations will continue into next year.

In 2020, there are many other project activities planned to communicate and disseminate the project results and share many other good practice case studies from the European healthcare sector. Two further webinars will be presented next year, along with a final conference in November where the final project report and video will be launched supporting the transition towards a circular economy for food in healthcare.

To keep up to date with HCWH Europe’s Sustainable Food programme, including updates from the MECAHF project, as well as invitations to project webinars and events – sign up to our Sustainable Food bulletin or contact us.