Unserved food from Mills-Peninsula Medical Center is getting donated to local nonprofits instead of ending up in the compost bin, due to a partnership with a technology company.

Through an arrangement with digital platform Copia, edible meals and ingredients not delivered to hospital patients or patrons are directed to agencies supporting those struggling amid the pandemic.

Since the program started in June, the medical center in Burlingame donated 3,732 pounds of food — amounting to 3,118 meals — to community service agencies seeking assistance.

Kristin Pfenning, food and nutrition services director, said it was been invigorating to see her team participate in the program which serves those in need while also reducing the hospital’s carbon footprint.

To that end, she said the waste reduction initiative has diverted food away from landfills and compost piles which would have been otherwise creating significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are not only donating to people in need, but we are improving our process in our local operations,” said Pfenning, whose program oversees food service for the 241-bed medical facility.

Copia facilitates the program by offering a platform in which cooks can enter into an app the amount of food, prepared or not, which goes unserved in a day. After a substantial volume is collected, workers can request service and a driver from a nonprofit agency can collect the food for distribution to its network.

Pfenning said her department had long hoped to establish a similar system, but struggled with the logistics solved by the partnership. Donated food spans from unserved oatmeal and the leftover rotating soup of the day to uncooked rice and unopened crackers. Because the hospital’s menu is generally comprised of healthy offerings, much of the food donated is nutritional and high quality, said Pfenning.

Most of the donations are currently directed to the United Council of Human Services in San Francisco, but Pfenning is urging local nonprofits to register with Copia to be eligible to receive the center’s donations.

Chief Medical Officer Stephen Lockhart said the program advances the center’s mission to help those who need support in a sustainable fashion.

“The teams behind this project are putting our values into action by leveraging innovation to not only reduce our environmental footprint, but also help feed community members in need,” he said in a prepared statement.

Nonprofits interested in receiving donations, or those interested in the program, should visit gocopia.com for more information.

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