Sodexo Dining at the University of Vermont began using LeanPath in April 2013. Since installing the system, they have prevented a significant amount of food waste through diligent waste tracking and high employee engagement. We recently spoke with Executive Chef James Poulos about his team's experience with LeanPath.
Had you ever tried to track food waste before?
I worked for 20 years in restaurants—in those cases we would put waste in buckets and the chef would come by and look in them. If there was too much food waste in there he wouldn’t be happy.
Have you found that LeanPath has helped you pinpoint opportunities to reduce waste?
Absolutely. It makes everyone more aware of waste having to put it on the scale and weigh it. With the data, we can see specific areas where we’re wasting and correct those. For example, we saw we were throwing away a lot of bread, because we were throwing away the bread heels. By looking at the data, we noticed this and now we repurpose that waste and make croutons or bread crumbs. We also switched from pre-cut produce to buying fresh produce, and have decreased spoilage by prepping ourselves. We made changes to our recipes to avoid waste; we were throwing away 2-3 gallons of soup each night so we changed the menu and decreased production, reducing that waste.
What changes have you seen in terms of culture?
Everyone is more aware of what they’re wasting. All the employees are more mindful of their waste, and we talk about LeanPath a couple times a week in team huddles. The dollar amount raises awareness and has changed the culture of food waste.
What is the best part about using the LeanPath system?
Being able to look at the data and finally compartmentalize what’s going on out there. If I’m not there, at night I can still go in and see what was wasted and then we can talk about it in our team huddles that we have each week.
What would you say to a chef/manager that is not currently tracking food waste?
Well, I was sort of skeptical at the beginning, and I would imagine that I’m not the only one who would be. That’s until you start using the system and see the numbers and realize that it’s actually a very useful tool.