In 2011, Michigan Tech implemented the LeanPath System on an ongoing basis in three residence dining halls and one retail food operation. They did so after first conducting a successful 6-week pilot program in which they reduced waste at one dining hall by more than 50%.
Kathy Wardynski, Manager of Purchasing and Process Improvement, has been with Michigan Technological University for four years. She also owns a restaurant, which she opened 18 years ago.
Why Michigan Tech Started Using LeanPath
“Coming from a restaurant, I was shocked by how much food we were throwing away. But I knew it’d be impossible to track all of that information by hand and then actually do something with it. You’d spend all of your time summarizing data. So when we saw what the LeanPath System could do, it seemed like a good fit. We had really good results with our trial run, and projected what the savings would be across the university. We knew the system would pay for itself.”
Tips for Minimizing Waste from the Michigan Tech Kitchen
“We have a two-pronged approach to reducing waste—first, we have become very focused (because of waste tracking!) on trying not to over-produce. We use a "just in time" philosophy to cooking that leaves us with less waste, and gives the students a fresher product. Secondly, for the food that is left-over, the staff has gotten creative with how to safely re-use, like making mac & cheese pizza and using popcorn chicken as a pizza topping. We use the left-over soft-serve to make ice cream sandwiches before the periodic machine clean-out rather than throwing it out—and the students love them.”
Celebrating Waste Reduction
“Over the 4 different locations, we have reduced our waste by $1,000/week. We recently had a celebration breakfast for all of our staff members. The great part about the program is that you can view the information and graphs every which way so we can show the staff how the waste numbers were trending down and how they had contributed to that.”