Food Waste in K-12 Operations
Food waste is a concern for every foodservice operation. In the U.S. approximately 40% of food is wasted between the farm and the plate. Wasted food is especially troubling in K-12 operations because this means that children are missing key nutritional opportunities, well contributing to overflowing landfills.
A recent study in Loveland, Texas highlights just how much food is left uneaten in K-12 environments. At three local elementary schools it was found that 25% of food goes in the trash. Fruits and vegetables comprise about 50% of this waste.
Usually this is where plate waste studies stop but the Loveland school district took the investigation one step further. Comparative analysis revealed that there was a lot less waste at one of the elementary schools. At this particular school the recess break period occurs before lunch. This simple schedule variation dramatically increases the amount of fruits, vegetables, and milk that are consumed, thereby decreasing food waste.
Food waste can seem like a daunting issue but through tracking, measurement, and analysis it’s possible to identify key trends and devise effective solutions. From simple solutions, like adjusting the schedule, to food waste tracking systems, there are a variety of ways to prevent and minimize food waste.