Coming alongside our clients and helping them achieve their sustainability goals is one of our greatest privileges. Hackensack Meridian Health has long been a leader in providing healthy, nutritious food to its patients, team members, and guests. But, as a health organization that serves thousands of meals each day, they’re also focused on reducing the waste made from each meal – and so are we.
To raise awareness of these efforts, we held a special six-course Zero Waste Dinner on April 24 to celebrate Stop Food Waste Day. During the Zero Waste Dinner, Executive Chef Cordova and his team delighted approximately 35 guests with an incredible culinary experience that used every piece of every ingredient.
Among the guests were Vito Buccellato, Hackensack Meridian Health Jersey Shore University Medical Center Chief Hospital Executive, and Kyle Tafuri, Hackensack Meridian Health Director of Sustainability. Vito gave a warm welcome to all the guests and shared a touching story about how much avoiding food waste meant to his family when he was growing up:
Vito grew up in the home of first-generation Italian-Americans. Since it was a struggle to put food on the table in the first place, Vito and his sisters learned at an early age that food should never go to waste.
Vito’s grandmother frequently emptied the refrigerator of all “leftovers,” often creating incredible seven-course meals all while saving food. “My mother and grandmother were a hundred years ahead of their time following the basic principles of sustainability. Trust me, ‘sustainability,’ is a word we couldn’t translate into Italian, even if we tried!”
Kyle also shared the accomplishments Hackensack Meridian Health has earned in sustainability to date and emphasized that avoiding food waste is an important strategy for the organization. “Food is a basic pillar of health. When you consider the fact that forty percent of the food in the United States is wasted, yet one in every ten people in New Jersey are hungry, that’s a problem. Events like this help us raise awareness and become more mindful when it comes to food waste.”
Chef Cordova, the Executive Chef behind the menu, led a team who created a unique meal that combined seasonal, sustainable food with no waste in food preparation. Here’s a great example: baked avocados were served using the vegetable’s skin as a serving dish. The flesh of the avocado was served as part of the main course and the core of the vegetable was used as a garnish – so none of the vegetables were thrown out.
It is estimated that approximately forty percent of all food purchased in the U. S. is wasted or thrown out. The Zero Food Waste dinner is part of a comprehensive program throughout Hackensack Meridian Health to utilize local and sustainable foods while reducing food waste.
Read the full story about the zero-waste dinner on the Morrison blog here .