Getting a Handle on Food Waste

From cafeterias to homes, there are many ways that we waste food in the United States. According to NPR, Americans throw out about a third of the food available to us, and restaurants throw away as much as ten percent of the what they buy. Wasting food is a problem for cafeterias on many levels. First and foremost, it represents wasted money, and few cafeterias can afford to throw away any of their budget.

On a broader scale, this waste represents environmental damage. Wasted food ends up in landfills, and as it rots, it generates harmful greenhouse gasses which contribute to climate change.

Because of the ongoing damage, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a challenge for the United States to reduce its wasted food by 50 % by 2030.

At this point, the challenge is voluntary, but many restaurants have already begun to work towards reducing their waste in order to promote their restaurant as green and increase profits. For school cafeterias, showing that the kitchen is doing everything possible to reduce waste, manage budgets, and go green can help show that the cafeteria is giving kids healthy opportunities to eat and learn.

Rightsize your recipes

When you use food inventory software in your cafeteria, you can look at how much of a particular dish you’ve sold in the past, and plan the right amount to cook this time so that you don’t have waste to throw out.

Manage your inventory

Every kitchen has experienced the frustration of finding an ingredient pushed to the back of the fridge which has now gone bad. By digitally managing your inventory, you can keep track of what needs to be used up when, and plan ahead.

Rely on data, not opinions

There’s plenty of emotion and instinct involved in cooking, but a successful cafeteria balances this with data driven decisions. If you want to show that kids enjoy a particular recipe, reaching for data about how many servings were sold is more useful than word of mouth from servers.

If your cafeteria’s goal is to reduce waste, reuse ingredients when possible, and rightsize its portions to maximize profits and increase satisfaction, software to give you a clear idea of your kitchen’s inventory is the first, important step towards achieving that goal. For now, the EPA goal is non-mandatory, but given increasing pressure from various groups, that may not be the case in the long term. Act today to choose the best software for your kitchen!

Students Get Healthier Lunch Choices When They Preorder!

If you’re already hungry when you’re choosing your lunch, how much harder is it for you to choose a healthy option? As adults, we constantly hear that grocery shopping or choosing food when we are already hungry is a recipe for unhealthy eating, so it is really surprising that kids react to food choices in the same way? In fact, studies have shown that when kids pre-order their lunches online, almost 30 percent of them will choose a healthier lunch option on their own. This is as opposed to just 15 percent when they need to make a choice in the line.

What does this tell us? That by encouraging students to pre-order their lunches, we don’t just reduce waste, control costs, and enable our cafeteria to plan ahead, we also foster healthier eating habits in kids.

Keep your cafeteria waste-free

There are several reasons to push for pre-ordering lunches:

● Reduce waste by giving the staff a realistic idea of how much of each choice to prepare

● Control costs by helping students know when they are choosing items that will result in extra charges on their accounts

When a cafeteria is cooking the right amount of food, keeping budgets in line with goals and expectations, and serving their kids well, everyone is happy! Pre-ordering can help make that happen.

Encourage better financial management

While pre-ordering definitely helps control the waste aspect of a cafeteria, it can also benefit the financial side of the equation for both kids and schools.

● Pre-ordering can prompt parents to keep their child’s lunch account balance positive

● Students receiving free or reduced-price lunches can see when they’re making choices that will incur charges

Keep the line running smoothly

Kids don’t get a lot of time to eat lunch in most schools. When they pre-order their meals, they will move through the line more quickly: they’ve already made their choices and paid for their meal. Kids get to spend their lunch time eating, instead of waiting to eat.

Pre-ordering can be incorporated in your district through a variety of methods: paper, mobile devices, or classroom engagement are a few of the possibilities. Whatever method is easiest for your school, when you help kids make lunch choices before they’re so hungry they can’t think, they’ll make better choices. Pre-ordering is a step for greater physical and financial health for the entire institution.