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Reducing food waste in schools

We’ve all heard about it by now –food waste is a major problem worldwide. About one third (or 1.3 billion tonnes) of food produced is lost or discarded every year. Yet, one in five people are at risk of hunger daily.

Here in Singapore, over 800 tonnes of food waste was generated in 2017. And out of this, only 16% was recycled. The figures are staggering. As a leader in providing food services, we know we have to be part of the solution. We are obligated to rethink the way we reduce, reuse and recycle.

One thing became clear, and is also advocated by experts worldwide. That is, the most important aspect of dealing with food waste is to not create it in the first place. Another realisation is this: we can only succeed with the active participation of our clients and consumers.

This is where Sodexo’s WasteWatch comes into play. WasteWatch is a holistic waste prevention programme designed for Sodexo sites around the world.

In Singapore, we debuted this waste prevention programme at a local education institution.

Here’s how WasteWatch works:

Each day, kitchen staff collects food waste through transparent buckets. Three types of waste are collected: over-production, preparation and pre-consumer waste. Here, the Sodexo team also identifies the exact food items left behind after each meal. The food waste is then measured, tracked and reported using a central monitoring system.

Armed with reliable data from the get go, staff consciously takes steps to reduce waste during food preparation.

Also, the Sodexo crew is able to determine the popularity of various dishes and adjusts the quantity produced accordingly. Fluctuations in demand are anticipated and planned in advance, such as when students head out for field trips.

Students are active participants in the process as well. Transparent bins remind them of the amount of waste they generate. To reinforce the message, educational posters are displayed in the dining hall and the topic of food waste is incorporated at assembly sessions.

The result? Food waste generated at the school was reduced by 300kg every week on average just after six months of implementing WasteWatch.

While we advocate sustainability, we never compromise on nutrition, especially when we are feeding competitive athletes with specific dietary needs. Our nutritionists then come into the picture, collaboratively working out the ideal nutrient-dense menu with their peers at the school.

As the largest private employer of dietitians globally and a diverse team of chefs, Sodexo designs and executes well-balanced and varied dishes to promote healthy eating among students.

This project brings together all the values that the Sodexo team holds dear, that while improving the Quality of Life of those we service, we do so with integrity and with the lightest possible impact on the environment.

Sources: 
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
National Environment Agency, Singapore

August 17, 2018

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