Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Weigh the Waste

Hello IC Students!

If you read our last blog, you know that we have kicked off WasteLESS Week here at IC Dining. This is a Sodexo run program to increase awareness about waste, and to make efforts to reduce it. Our dining halls are continually improving our waste reduction, and we are always open to help and suggestions. Fortunately, we do compost all pre and post consumer waste. This means that our food waste is diverted from the landfill, and instead it is broken down into compost that can be used on top of gardens and soil.

In addition, we have recently implemented LeanPath. LeanPath is the food service industry's first fully automated food waste tracking system. The system helps our Sodexo employees analyze exactly where our pre and post consumer waste comes from, so that they can change their production process to eliminate that waste. The way that LeanPath works is that whenever a dining hall employee goes to compost something, they first must weigh it and log it into LeanPath. LeanPath will take the weight of that food, and the employee will input what category of waste that food is. The categories consist of trimmings, over production, expired, etc. Then we are able to see where most of our waste is coming from. If we are overproducing, then we can cut back on how much food we produce. Or if we have a lot of trim waste, we can retrain staff on trimming practices so that they are more efficient.

Lastly, we ask for students help in reducing waste. We encourage all of our students to waste less in the dining hall by pre-plating meals based on portion sizes, providing napkins dispensers that dispense one napkin at a time, eliminating trays, and encouraging students to only take as much as they can eat. For WasteLESS Week, we like to bring more attention to the amount of food wasted in the dining hall through Weigh the Waste events. You may have seen us in the dining hall doing this already. We are located in front of the dish return, and we ask students to dump out any liquid, napkin, or food waste into a 5 gallon bucket that we then weigh once it gets full. This serves as a good visual for students to understand how much food is wasted in the dining hall.

Granted, we understand that there are complications that come with food waste. Rinds and bones are not edible, or sometimes you may really not like something. These things happen and are understandable. However, we ask students to be mindful of how much food they put on their plate, and if they will be able to finish it all. If you are not sure if you like something, try it first. If you don't know how much you will want, take a little and go back for more if you are still hungry. All of these practices can go a long way in terms of saving food. Last night in Campus Center dining hall from 5-7pm, students threw out 127 pounds of food waste. Let's work together to bring this number down.

Keep any eye out for us in the dining hall, and remember to be mindful of what you put on your plate!
Happy WasteLESS Week,

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