Food Sourcing and Organic Waste
Rochester Regional is pursuing sustainable food practices that not only supply fresh, healthy food to our patients and staff, but also positively impact the environment and our local economy
The U.S. food system faces significant challenges in that our food system is overly focused on costs rather than nutrition. Our unsustainable food systems have resulted in widespread poor eating habits and large scale environmental concerns, ultimately leading to poor human health outcomes. Today, more than 68% of the U.S. population is considered obese, or overweight yet healthier food habits remain elusive to many of the patients we care for. On top of that, as much as 40% of all of the food in the U.S. is either uneaten or sent to landfills, and the average piece of food travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to fork, leaving a substantial environmental footprint. At Rochester Regional, we are aiming to dramatically shift this paradigm by encouraging healthier eating habits and providing the healthiest food choices available. We are seeking ways to reduce our food waste, converting what we must throw out to renewable electricity, and continually increase the amount of food purchased from local suppliers.
20% of our purchased produce is sourced from local farms.
Waste to Energy
Food wastes and other organic materials that could be diverted make up 25% of trash sent to landfills. Several food waste audits recently conducted at Rochester General, Unity, and Riedman suggest that we could be diverting up to 705,925 lbs of food waste from landfills a year across our organization. When organic waste is sent to landfills, it breaks down into methane, which is 20 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. That means 1 lb of methane emitted is like putting 20 lbs of CO2 into the air. Rochester Regional began diverting organic waste from our Riedman Campus to an anaerobic digester just south of Rochester. Bacteria in the anaerobic digester break down organic waste into methane that is then combusted on-site to produce electricity. The process also produces a nutrient-rich slurry that is used in agricultural applications to help displace synthetic chemical fertilizers.
Community Supportive Agriculture
Rochester Regional is currently working with local organizations to offer Community Supportive Agriculture (CSA) food share drop-off locations across the organization. These CSA organizations partner with credentialed farmers and wholesalers that ensure the best quality local produce and sustainable food, adhering to the highest standards in our facilities and communities. Thus far, five food share locations were established at our facilities for employees to take part in.
Local Food Purchasing and Farmers Market
Rochester Regional actively supports purchases from local farms to support our local economy. Currently, we purchase produce from a number of local vendors, annually amounting to around 20% of the organization’s total spent on produce. Growers located in the Rochester area include: Bolton Farms, Bushart Farms, Case Brothers Clover Hill Farms, Deconick Farms, Eden Valley, Fisher Farms, Fowler, Jenkins Farm, Kreshers Farms, Red Jacket, Springwater Sprouts, Squash Blossom Farms, and White Farms. Additionally, Rochester Regional’s Riedman location holds weekly farmers markets to encourage employees to purchase more locally grown food. We are actively seeking to expand the program and start farmers markets at other facilities.
Have an Idea?
If you have an idea for a new initiative, we want to hear it! Submit your ideas below.