One-third of the lunch at elderly care homes goes to waste

A study by the Swedish Food Agency reveals that one-third of the lunch portion at elderly care homes is wasted.

This is the third time the Swedish Food Agency has assessed food waste within elderly care. Sixty out of the country’s 290 municipalities have reported data from the 2022 food waste measurements. On average, around 108 grams per meal are discarded during lunch, which is roughly one-third of the meal. This not only represents a significant waste of resources but also poses a risk of malnutrition.

– The food that is being thrown away should have been consumed. Many residents at elderly care homes are frail, and malnutrition is common. Therefore, it is a serious issue that food waste is so substantial, says Emelie Eriksson at the Swedish Food Agency’s Center of Expertise for Meals in Healthcare, Schools, and Social Services.

Compared to the 2020 assessment, more municipalities have reported food waste data for elderly care homes, but the number is still relatively low. For comparison, three times as many municipalities reported food waste data for schools and preschools. One reason for this disparity may be that care facilities find it challenging to prioritize food waste reduction efforts. At the same time, food waste measurements can be used to highlight uneaten food and thus serve as a tool to identify the risk of malnutrition, as stated in a press release by the Swedish Food Agency.

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