It’s a start – practical solutions from members

Front of house

From talking to students to moving bins to the front of house and asking them to scrape their own plates, there are many schemes aimed at showing diners just how much food they are wasting.

Some universities are going further and looking at their pricing policies, offering students smaller portions or splitting up meals to encourage them to just take what they want. One member stated “We used to charge £4.50 for a roast dinner, now we charge only £2.50 for a main course then students can add sides on top. They can have all sides for £2”.

One university has also tackled this issue by letting students know that they don’t need to overload their plates and can instead return for more, this has reduced food waste on a nightly basis by over half, from 25-30kg to 10-15kg.

Cost savings

One of our group tackled the issue of portion control by convincing a yoghurt supplier to introduce a smaller pot because they found out too much was being wasted with the larger sizes. Lids on containers for pasta and salad have also been implemented by another university to emphasise portion control.

Data analysis

Better menu planning benefits from in-depth data analysis and remains a massive opportunity to cut food waste. In order to tackle this, here are some ideas from our members:

  • “We monitor very closely dishes that generate more plate waste and then we will tweak or remove the dish.”
  • “We’ve replaced salad garnish with coleslaw in our pub, which is generally eaten.”
  • “Staff ask students at bins or at tables what was wrong with their food if they’ve left something on their plate.”

Operations and logistics

The pure diversity of food on offer can mean more waste generation than is necessary on a daily basis. Many universities say that the key to tackling this is communication. In those universities where progress has been most impressive, regular communication with stakeholders shines through. Chefs, students and catering staff will all be involved to assess everything from student feedback on Twitter and waste data from contractors, to new menu ideas.

Some managers conduct spot checks on the bins, whilst others quantify waste in terms of labour costs. For example – if those ten burgers hadn’t been wasted, we could have had extra help for two hours.

Winning one battle at a time...

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