Environmental Stewardship: WE ACT for Agriculture

By Mark Dunn, Executive Director Resource, Engineering, and Hospitality Service Segment

In August, we introduced a new framework designed to help more than 100,000 caregivers across seven-states align on a shared organizational vision to become carbon negative by 2030.

This month we’re exploring how Providence is making investments to optimize sustainable sources of food and reducing food waste across the organization.

Building foundations for sustainable food practices

The UN[1] estimates that nearly one-third of the food produced around the world is wasted. Hospitals are big culprits of this waste – about 10-15 percent of a hospital’s daily solid waste comes from food.

Not only is this a tragedy when we think about all those who are going hungry, but it is also a waste of natural resources. Producing food includes the use of energy and water, and creates pollution from transportation and chemicals as it’s moved from the source to the destination. 

Decreasing food waste across our care facilities is a key priority for Providence. This entails both being more cognizant of sourcing food from producers committed to sustainability and educating Providence caregivers on the importance of reducing food waste.

In fact, as part of our commitment to become carbon negative by 2030, we aim to reduce the total amount of waste we send to landfill or incineration by 50 percent, and decreasing food waste will be a critical component of our plans to achieve that goal. 

We are also ensuring that sustainable and socially responsible food purchasing practices are written into contracts with our major vendors.

Recently, we selected a new food services provider for our family of organizations and outlined specific sustainability requirements that will be integrated into that contract. This partner organization will also work with local vendors, where our care facilities have existing relationships, to ensure these practices are consistent throughout our food purchasing matrix. 

Local accomplishments

While we create a foundation for more sustainable food purchasing practices at the organizational level, our local care facilities have been busy reducing food waste and engaging in sustainability efforts of their own. From composting and donating unused food to local shelters, to purchasing – and even producing – food locally, our ministries are making impressive progress in this area. Learn more.

Reducing the amount of food waste across America and the world requires collective action. Whether at work or at home, it’s important that we are all mindful of the environmental impacts of how we produce, purchase and discard food.

Below are some additional resources. We hope you’ll join us by getting involved in your own communities.

Related resources

Leading communities to a healthier future: Less waste – Healthier Hospitals Program

Sustainable food service operations – Practice Greenhealth

Supporting sustainable seafood – Monterey Bay Aquarium

 

[1] See United Nations Environment statistics on worldwide food waste here.

About the Author

Executive Director Resource, Engineering, and Hospitality Service Segment

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