Monitoring Program Chops Dining Hall Food Waste by One-Third

Sodexo employees at eight college campuses cut kitchen waste by about one-third by tracking and monitoring food waste, according to the preliminary findings from the first eight weeks of a pilot study.

The pilot study, which focuses on kitchen (pre-consumer) waste, features a tracking station in which Sodexo employees enter data about what they are throwing out and why. By tracking the reason for throwing away items, Sodexo is able to correct the problem to curtail future food waste. Employees at those eight sites have dramatically reduced overproduction, spoilage, expiration and trimmings by participating using the tracking system.

“Our people have been vigilant about preventing food waste at these sites, demonstrating they are extremely good stewards of the environment,” said Tom Post, Sodexo’s president of campus and education services. “The pilot results show it's possible to send less waste to landfills and to reduce costs without compromising the quality or variety of the food we serve.”

LeanPath estimates that 4 to 10 percent of the food that is purchased ends up in kitchen waste. Each participating site in the pilot also has a Stop Waste Action Team. This group reviews the waste tracking data, sets specific goals for improvement and tests waste-prevention ideas. The most effective ideas become permanent.

In September, Sodexo launched “Stop Wasting Food,” a campaign to engage its customers and employees in reducing food waste to curb climate change.

Americans trash 25 percent of all the food they prepare each year, leading to 31 million tons of wasted food piling up in landfills annually. Food waste in landfills produces methane gas, which is at least 21 times more potent than carbon. Methane breaks down the ozone layer and leads to climate change.

The pilot program was initiated in early September at eight college campuses across the country:Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; California State University of Monterey Bay in Seaside, Calif.; Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.; Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore.; Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.; University of California at Davis, Calif.; and University of Wisconsin in River Falls, Wis.