Hospital food management: a multi-objective approach to reduce waste and costs

Mariana Arriz-Jorquiera, Jorge A. Acuna, Marian Rodríguez-Carbó, José L. Zayas-Castro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Food waste contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions and represents a substantial portion of overall waste within hospital facilities. Furthermore, uneaten food leads to a diminished nutritional intake for patients, that typically are vulnerable and ill. Therefore, this study developed mathematical models for constructing patient meals in a 1000-bed hospital located in Florida. The objective is to minimize food waste and meal-building costs while ensuring that the prepared meals meet the required nutrients and caloric content for patients. To accomplish these objectives, four mixed-integer programming models were employed, incorporating binary and continuous variables. The first model establishes a baseline for how the system currently works. This model generates the meals without minimizing waste or cost. The second model minimizes food waste, reducing waste up to 22.53 % compared to the baseline. The third model focuses on minimizing meal-building costs and achieves a substantial reduction of 37 %. Finally, a multi-objective optimization model was employed to simultaneously reduce both food waste and cost, resulting in reductions of 19.70 % in food waste and 32.66 % in meal-building costs. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of multi-objective optimization in reducing waste and costs within large-scale food service operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
JournalWaste Management
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Food waste
  • Healthcare management
  • Mixed-integer programming
  • Multi-objective optimization
  • Operations research
  • Waste management


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