Tuesday, September 2, 2014

10 Tips to Minimize Food Waste at Events

Consider these ideas to make your food and beverage service more sustainable—and save money.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more food reaches landfills than any other type of municipal solid waste. The Food Waste Reduction Alliance estimates that as much as 40 percent of the food that is grown, processed, and transported in the United States will never be consumed, yet an estimated 50 million Americans do not have access to enough food. There are also environmental impacts to food waste: decomposing food in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas. And, according to the alliance, uneaten food in this country uses 26 percent of our freshwater resources and accounts for 4 percent of total oil consumption.



When people gather for events that include food service, inevitably waste will be generated, but there are things planners can do to mitigate the impact. BizBash asked three people with expertise in this area to share their insights: Shawna McKinley is director of sustainability for MeetGreen; Dana Siles is community service chairwoman for the New England chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events; Jeannie Power is an independent planner and director of industry relations and education for EventMobi; and Kevin Jezewski is director of sustainability and special projects for Savor Chicago at McCormick Place. Here are their tips for minimizing and handling food waste.

1. Make food waste reduction and diversion a part of your planning from the beginning.

2. Track and review attendance and consumption data from past events to help determine the type and quantities of food to order. Resist the urge to refresh buffets and self-service stations too soon. “Our goal should be to provide just the right amount. So let service staff know when you want them to refresh and that it is okay to have the food diminish,” McKinley says.

3. Choose in-season food that can be procured from local vendors to minimize the carbon footprint. Also consider integrating ingredients that consume fewer resources. Vegetarian selections can be less resource-intensive than proteins, McKinley says, and chicken,and  turkey have lower water and carbon footprints than beef or lamb.

4. Think about how the flow of meals might allow the caterer to make use of leftovers, such as using any unserved vegetables from the dinner buffet as a soup-starter the next day or turning extra bread into croutons.

5. Use reusable plates and flatware when possible. For disposables, choose serving ware and utensils that can be recycled or composted and that are produced by a vendor that minimizes the use of water and chemicals in production. Avoid packaging such as plastic bags, wrappers, and foil that can’t be recycled or composted.
Best Events avoids disposables when possible especially when catering for events.

6. Offer tumblers and hydration stations or pitchers of water instead of single-use bottled water.
It may be convenient to just have bottled water on tables but most of the time, guests sip and forget about it.

7. Select caterers and venues that support sustainability initiatives and ask if they have relationships with local food pantries and can coordinate food donations. Check online resources such as Rock & Wrap It Up’s Hungerpedia, a database of thousands of agencies that accept donated food, and Feeding America, a national network of food banks.
In Malaysia, you can check with the local soup kitchens

8. Understand the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a federal law that protects organizations and individuals from liability issues when they donate “apparently wholesome food” in good faith to a nonprofit organization. “One of the biggest reasons businesses are not donating food is because the shelters won’t accept it because they don’t know that as long as serve-safe guidelines are followed, there are no liability issues,” Siles says. She helped to create NACE New England’s Feeding Our Neighbors initiative, which educates venues, caterers, and food pantries on how to give and receive donations and also facilitates donations to nonprofits in the area.

9. Add a compost receptacle next to the traditional trash and recycling cans.

10. Communicate with your attendees about food waste before, during, and after your event. “Before our events we would email a reminder that said, ‘If you are not able to make it, please let us know so we can reduce the amount of food waste.’ That seemed to get a really good reaction,” Power says. At the event, use signage to educate attendees on your sustainability efforts, and after the event, share the data with them. In January, EventMobi and consultant Jim Spellos created the Whole Earth Calculator. Planners enter the pounds of food collected into the mobile app to calculate the number of meals provided and the amount of carbon dioxide and methane that would have been released into the atmosphere if the food had been thrown away. The app can generate a tweet that includes those calculations and a thank-you to the organization that donated the food. The app also can calculate how much carbon dioxide was averted from the total pounds of paper and plastic products that were recycled.

About the Author

Best Events

Author & Editor

Based in Malaysia, Best Events specializes in Conferences, Seminars, Murder Mystery Dinners, Gala Dinners and Team Building events.

31 comments:

  1. Very sounds tip for event organizer to remember. Utilizing reusable plates, spoons and forks and the like is eco-friendly thing to do. As well as saving host extra money.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People are still getting used to the idea of spending a bit more on reusables rather than disposables

      Delete
  2. All people around the world must read this article and practice with their daily lives. It's really a must for everyone to know what's the level of food intake they can eat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the Western countries are more exposed to the idea of conserving food and avoiding wastage but the Eastarn/Asian countries are now also getting more aware

      Delete
  3. I always bring my tumbler instead of bottled-water, more hygiene, save, and go green


    Http://beautyasti1.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great! I used to bring my own container for take away food as well

      Delete
  4. Its very helpful post. Food usually wasted on such events.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I see that most restaurants are just throwing away those leftover food from customers. Some restaurants, on the other hand, give them away to the poor. I think it's great if there's a rule during events to take food home and a reminder about minimizing food wastes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's great when we work with venues who understand the importance of avoiding food wastage

      Delete
  6. Helpful and useful post. Food wasted on such events can are uncountable

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true and we try to have guests being home whatever they can when possible

      Delete
  7. I think that's a very important concern that you have talked about. The measures that you have mentioned will definitely be very useful in controlling food wastage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're hoping that more venues will stress on the importance of avoiding food wastage

      Delete
  8. Excellent tips and very useful. I have to though, because we never have leftovers. Not with my kids!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Suzanne! It's important to teach kids about not wasting food. I sometimes go to restaurants where patrons leave half their meals untouched when they over order. It's heartbreaking

      Delete
  9. In india there is an organization, you just need to called them after the function ended, they will come and collect the rest of the food and carry away with them, after that they will distribute this food in poor people

    ReplyDelete
  10. Its sad when I see restaurants throw bulks of food out of their pantry. I hope they'll be enlightened to find ways, such as this, to minimize wasting of food.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they see how much food is wasted at the end of each day when they visit the landfills, they might then get an idea of how much they contribute to it.

      Delete
  11. History of food wastage should be studied. It would also be nice to have a backup plan like donating the leftover food to a cause.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some establishments which do donate and some association who collect but they are too few

      Delete
  12. These are wise and sound advice which big companies rarely follow, as they will want to look grand at events and not to be viewed as stingy...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think when guests understand the importance of RSVPing, food wastage at events can be reduced

      Delete
  13. I hate wasting food and eventually throwing it away. I always buy small portions for home so that it is always fresh and I don't have to throw it out if it kept for too long. Wonderful ways for optimizing food consumption and preservation at events!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, same here! It's important to plan what to cook and remember what we have in the fridge so we don't overbuy stuff we don't need

      Delete
  14. I think ti's a brilliant idea to tell people to be mindful of waste at an event. Signs could be posted too as reminders.. I see parties where people take too much food and eat half of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's common to have eyes that are bigger than our stomachs :)

      Delete
  15. This is very helpful, Bringing reusable plates works fine for me.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow, I've never considered these at all. Filipinos are fond of big parties and inviting the whole neighborhood (and friends and family...) to such celebrations. I guess when you're not on the other side of the coin, you just take for granted these things because you don't know how it feels to not have food in your plate. Thank you for these tips!

    ReplyDelete
  17. It is sad that people waste food when there is so much need. Thank you for these great tips!

    ReplyDelete

 

Best Events Blog © 2015 - Blogger Templates Designed by Templateism.com, Plugins By MyBloggerLab.com