Reduce waste with proper ordering, storage

peppers jars

While it only serves 200 students and staff daily, the Muse School in Calabasas, Calif., has a need for fresh produce that’s much larger than the typical K-12 school. The private institution serves entirely vegan fare, menuing 1,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables per week.

“Despite the large amount of produce we use, the great majority is consumed, and there’s little spoilage,” says Kayla Webb, executive chef. “We barely throw away any produce.”

The Muse School has strict policies in place—outside food is banned, for example, to cut down on waste. But even if an operation can’t maintain such a level of control, proper planning and storage can make a big difference in the amount of produce that ends up in the trash.

On-site gardens have become standard at many facilities, and their harvests usually complement the operation’s produce needs. At the Muse School, the kitchen regularly prepares its vegan menu with produce from its campus garden, replacing around 30 percent of the greens needed. However, like many similar gardens, it runs into the problem of large harvests while school is out. “We’re going to try canning or blanching some of the summer produce and come up with ways to use it in the fall,” says Webb. 

Thinking small has been the key for Terry Nahavandi, resident district manager for Compass, who helped open a new dining facility at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte last year that shifted the university away from the large centralized kitchen model. “The core of what we do is in small stations, where the items are cooked in small batches or made to order,” he says. “Doing that reduces the need for massive ordering far in advance of perishables, which helps us cut down on waste.”

Keeping ordering to just a few days out from usage has been a successful model at UNCC. “Our menu planning works best when we’re keeping our orders smaller, and not receiving large amounts of perishables,” Nahavandi says. His department orders about 15,000 pounds of produce weekly, with a focus on seasonal goods to ensure quality.

At the University of California, Irvine, chefs start the day with their menu management system, planning well in advance to gauge the quantities of perishables, including produce, to order. “We’re able to adjust fairly well how much to get based on traffic and tastes of our students,” says Tyson Monagle, Aramark marketing coordinator of dining for the school.

The UCI kitchens also plan menus to make use of produce in multiple dishes. “If there’s a part of the produce that’s for one menu item, we’ll see if another part can be used for something else,” says Monagle. “That way our waste is cut to the absolute minimum.” 

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
fish tacos

From High Liner Foods.

Younger consumers are driving an increased focus on sustainability, and more consumers overall are demanding a wider variety of seafood on menus. With shifting interest in seafood, operators need to be familiar with the seafood consumer—who they are, what they’re looking for and when they eat it—to more effectively boost interest in seafood dishes.

Understand consumer habits

Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report finds that 65% of consumers eat seafood at least occasionally (once every 90 days or more), either as an...

Industry News & Opinion

The Missouri House of Representatives has initially approved a bill that would enable students with dietary issues to forgo mandatory meal plans at public colleges and universities, U.S. News reports.

Approved Tuesday, the bill would grant students with medical documentation of food sensitivities, food allergies or medical dietary issues the right to opt out of meal plans.

Supporters of the bill say it will allow students to not have to pay for food they can’t safely eat, while opponents say that the bill will negatively impact schools financially. According to legislative...

Industry News & Opinion

A study released by Sodexo indicates that gender-balanced management improves team performance.

The 2018 study is an expansion of a previous Sodexo study that launched in 2014. The expanded study analyzed 50,000 managers in all levels of management from 70 entities around the world over five years.

The study found that teams managed by 40% to 60% women had better employee and client retention, saw fewer workplace accidents and increased their operating margins and employee engagement.

Industry News & Opinion

Rick Farmer, executive chef for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and Stephanie Powers, executive chef of Spring Harbor, a retirement community in Columbus, Ga., were crowned the winners of MenuDirections’ 2018 Culinary Competition.

Split into teams of two, chefs had 60 minutes to prepare and plate their own entrees using a preselected basket of ingredients such as beans, mushrooms and orange sauce. Each dish was judged on its presentation, taste and creativity.

The winning dish was orange glazed pork with a black bean and wild mushroom cake topped...

FSD Resources