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Barbados Today : Revived programme to help cut food wastage at QEH

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) Volunteer Meal Time Assistance Programme has been reintroduced and is set to help the tertiary healthcare facility, which spends approximately $400 000 monthly to feed 300 patients, reduce food wastage.
The initiative started in 2014 but was placed on hold for a short period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the relaunch of the programme in the QEH Auditorium on Wednesday, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness with Responsibility for the QEH, Dr Sonia Browne, said the role of the programme’s volunteers, who assist patients with eating and drinking, must not be underestimated.

She said they were particularly needed at this time when the hospital lacked its full complement of nurses.

“And I will tell you why this programme is absolutely necessary. Checking on this cost of feeding patients in the hospital, we cover a little over 300 people, and the cost works out to something like, give or take, $400 000 a month,” she said.

“Not only that, before this programme, 2013 research shows that we were losing about 50 per cent of our food to wastage. The launch was in 2014, and by the next year, it was found that wastage went to some 33 per cent.”

Acting Dietician at the QEH Kerrie-Ann Best said the Volunteer Meal Time Assistance Programme was established after the Food and Nutrition Department and the Nursing Department observed patients were not eating their meals and there was a significant amount of food wastage.

She said the nutritional needs of patients were also not being met, leading to an increase in cases of weight loss, additional medical complications and longer stays in the hospital.

“Volunteers who came on board were able to dedicate their time and effort to the feeding of patients, and we saw a significant decrease in food wastage and patients were able to meet their nutritional needs,” the dietician said.

“We cannot underestimate the value of good nutrition to good health and wellbeing and recovery. I am very delighted that the Volunteer Meal Assistance Programme will be restarted and want to especially thank our new cohort of volunteers.”
Best indicated that over a seven-year period, a total of 45 volunteers enrolled in the programme. An additional nine people have been added to the list of volunteers, while 20 more have signed up and are awaiting training.

Article originally published by Barbados Today

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