Read on to see how members of FSD's Culinary Council help reduce food waste through product procurement.
Over the past few years we have increased our purchases of “value-added” products. We have seen all of the standard benefits of this practice, including reduction in waste due to 100% yield, as well as the peripheral labor savings. Here at BCBSSC, we are making extracts in-house using components such as basil stems, cucumber peelings and strawberry tops that would typically go into our compost program. We then offer these extracts to our guests to add to carbonated water from the fountain machine to create their own naturally flavored waters as an alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
Food Services Manager
Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina
Here at University of Wisconsin-Madison, we utilize CBORD Menu Management software. The menus are loaded into the system several weeks in advance. Every Tuesday, we take a physical inventory and enter those quantities into CBORD. Once that is complete, we run an order scheduler, which generates an order of ingredients based on volume of recipes forecasted minus product on order and minus inventory on hand. Most items are purchased for just-in-time use (day before) unless there is an advance pull to slack frozen product. If that is the case, then the product may be brought in a few days early. Just-in-time ordering allows us to supersede what the computer is telling us to order based on product on hand.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
We purchase some vegetables pre-prepped (broccoli crowns, cauliflower florets, shredded carrots), and that helps save waste and prep time. We monitor our salad bars to be sure we are not putting out too much product, as we have to discard everything after four hours. We also utilize production records to see how much of an item we prepared and used the last time we offered it to students so we do not overprepare the next time.
Assistant Food Service Supervisor of Culinary Development
Cincinnati Public Schools
A strategy we are working on now is to streamline menu development across our five dining venues. We currently run five menus, each independently created by our individual venue chefs de cuisine. We have recently created a single six-week cycle menu that was created collaboratively by our culinary team that will rotate between the five venues. In doing this, we have reduced the number of menus running concurrently from 630 menus (breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week) to 126 menus over the six-week cycle. This still provides a great deal of variety for our residents, as they will never see the same item twice during the cycle in the same venue.
The upside is that if there is a menu item they enjoy, they will be able to go to one of our other venues to enjoy it within two weeks. From a procurement and waste perspective, 630 menus required approximately 3,200 recipes, all of them with different ingredients. It represents an approximately 80% reduction in SKUs, making inventory management much easier to facilitate and providing much greater opportunity for cross-utilization.
Senior Living Director of Dining Services
Rogue Valley Manor
Sustainability has been an area that's evolved to include composting, recycling and reducing overall energy use. A couple of years ago, we began by removing Styrofoam and moved to recyclable, compostable paper products. This was good, but we noticed these containers were ending up in the same trash as the Styrofoam used to. So we worked with our students and our local waste haulers, and now we have recycling, trash and compost containers at all of our schools. We have a district composting program, so all of our excess salad bar items, cuttings from prep and student compost containers go there.
We have reduced our trash hauling by half and increased our recycling by 25%. We've also made everyone in our central kitchen aware of our energy use, so now we have 50 people that limit water and electrical use. We've seen consumption in these areas reduced by 10%. Just wait until our solar panels are up and running!
Director of Child Nutrition Services
Cajon Valley School District
El Cajon, Calif.