Strategy #1: Training and Measurement

Training and Measurement

1.1 Staff training

To reduce the wasting of food, the entire team must be on board and equipped with the tools to create change.  Food purchasers, menu planners, kitchen staff (whether on-site or off-site), and delivery-system (cafeteria style, campus stores, convention meals) planners all need to be engaged.  LeanPath co-founder and CEO Andrew Shakman urges managers to “make food waste a safe topic” so that identification of food wasting is not seen as an indication of poor employee performance. His company’s training emphasizes engaging staff in pre-shift meetings to discuss specific goals, creation of a “stop waste action team,” and acknowledgement of efforts.[1] If your institution contracts out your food service planning and preparation, adequate staff training should be a consideration in bid specs and final contract language.

Food service staff will need training in techniques for efficient meal planning, measuring and tracking food waste, and reducing the wasting of food.  In addition, if part of your strategy is to emphasize the purchase and delivery of low-carbon foods, your staff will need to understand and get behind low-carbon menu planning and purchasing practices. The sections that follow explore all of these areas of food service.

1.2 Track and measure food waste

By tracking and measuring specific food purchased and food waste generated along  its institutional life-cycle (storage, prep, delivery to consumer, post-consumer waste) and over time, your institution can identify the types of food that are wasted and when. With this information, you can avoid purchasing food that ends up being discarded.

Tracking food waste creates a critical feedback loop with staff: “The very act of measurement is, unto itself, an intervention that expresses priorities, increases employee awareness, engages staff, and shapes behavior. Moreover, by having regular data the staff understands what is and is not working when they try various waste reduction efforts.  This allows for course corrections. It also shows when an area which was previously under control starts to become a problem.”

 If you are contracting out your food service, the bid process and service contract can be used to drive public monies towards vendors who have a credible program of tracking and measuring to prevent the wasting of food. 

Reducing food waste can also save money for your institution. According to LeanPath, just tracking food waste during food service operations can save 2-4% on annual food buying and reduce food waste by up to 80%.[2]

See below for tools and case studies related to this strategy:


[1] LeanPath webinar, "How to Save Money by Managing Food Waste Differently," February 17, 2015. [2]