Environmental Sustainability

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability has become an essential ingredient to doing business responsibly and successfully. 

Our board-led Green/Sustainability Committee has been vital in providing expertise, guidance, and assistance in helping us achieve our ongoing goals.

We are going for the gold in Sustainability at Work through the City of Portland, and have currently completed 40 actions - only 5 to go before we can be certified a gold level organization.

Energy

Our Meals on Wheels People Central Kitchen is a high-production state-of-the-art industrial kitchen that produces, packages and ships over 5,000 meals per day into the community. It is a major source of energy consumption for our organization, and we are constantly evaluating initiatives to reduce the environmental footprint of our main kitchen operation. The building was designed around sustainable activities, such as water heated by running through compressors, and office light time limited and harvesting, and lancscaping watered from roof drains.

 

Some initiatives we have completed in 2016 include:

Upgrading kitchen equipment to newer, more energy efficient options, including new cook & hold ovens, combi ovens and blast chillers. Combined these pieces of equipment reduce energy use, reduce maintenance cost, as well as giving us a 10% reduction in protein shrinkage allowing us to purchase higher quality cuts of meats for our clients. Of the investment of $90,440 in this equipment we expect to see an annual savings of $24,510.

We also applied window film to the south and west of the windows at our Resource Center to reduce energy for heating and cooling.

 

Inititives in process for 2017 include:

We are thrilled to have received a grant to fully cover converting our diesel refridgerator delivery trucks to electric plug in, while idling each day cooling and waiting for loading. 

 

 

Waste

Food waste reduction is a top organizational priority, and our board of directors recently ranked Menu and Portion Changes and Measuring Food Waste in the top three of inititavies to undergo further evaluation. We will be piloting a test program to convert our three compartment home-delivered disposable meal tray to a two compartment meal tray, thus reducing food waste by more closely aligning food given to clients with food actually consumed. This will be data-driven as food waste will be measured and tracked, following best practice of senior nutrition.

Targeting zero waste 

All of our home delivery disposable trays given to clients are recycled, and our new client handbook has instructions for clients on how to recycle after eating the meal.

Our Central Kitchen and Resource Center are composting all food waste! 

Many of our centers also have thriving gardens and composting programs, including food waste being picked up by daily local gardeners and backyard farmers. Centers also partners with master gardeners and local farms for food donations and space to grow our own food. These  community partnerships are instrumental!

Responsible Sourcing

We sucessfully negotiated with all of our produce vendors and partners and now receive deliveries of incoming food in reusable plastic containers. We also no longer ship cold cold packs out to centers in cardboard, instead using reusable totes.

One of our top prioritiesis to have more and more of our food come from local food sources. We are looking for more partners to add to our growing list, which now includes partnerships with locally sourced seafood vendors, Organically Grown, Dave's Killer Bread and the Oregon Food Bank.  

 

Here is our garden at the Resource Center in its prime! We need land, and are looking for partnerships with large farms!