Several medical facilities run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have eateries known as Patriot Cafes to help serve the veterans and their families who frequent the centers. As with any hospital food service, kitchen waste is a common result, but the VA has put in place 2 new initiatives for reducing kitchen waste.
Currently, 9 VA hospitals located in West Palm Beach, St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Temple, San Francisco, San Diego, and Palo Alto have started these initiatives. The pilot programs, if successful, could spread to as many as 170 facilities in less than 10 months.
The first pilot program is recycling cooking oil at the first 6 locations. Estimates show that the recycling could put over 580,000 pounds of used cooking oil to work in alternative uses, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 and supporting the VA’s sustainability goal of having 50% waste diversion in the next 3 years.
The other pilot program was a composting experiment, conducted by the Veterans Canteen Service and the Martinsburg VA Medical Center’s Nutrition and Food Service Group, between December 19, 2011 and January 31, 2012. During the trial, the kitchen waste, from the Patriot Café in Martinsburg, was composted with an average of 30 pounds per week being turned into gardening materials. The program won several environmental awards and is planned to expand to West Palm Beach and the California VA locations.
Recycling initiatives such as this can help reduce costs and increase sustainability at VA hospitals around the country. These steps can help allow the VA to focus their funding on disabled veteran services and other important features of the VA health care system.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today – 1-888-234-5758.