How Riverside Methodist Hospital reduced bread waste by 75%...

By Robb White, CEC CCA AAC; Executive Chef & Food Waste Prevention Catalyst  //  November 20, 2017

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Soon after OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital installed the LeanPath food-waste prevention platform in April 2017, Keith Harrington, Riverside Methodist’s production manager, saw they were tossing out a lot of bread at his Subway(™) franchise.

“That Subway is open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day and does an incredible number of transactions,” he says. “With that sort of volume, we go through a lot bread.”

The Columbus, Ohio-based hospital has over 1,000 beds and, through its foodservice partner, Aramark, operates a popular food-court-style dining facility. “I’ve never worked in any foodservice where the scale is this big,” says Harrington. “The walk-in is as big as my house.”

Reflecting on the volume of bread waste, Harrington consulted with his LeanPath Customer Success Manager, and together they set a goal: to reduce bread waste at the Subway franchise by 25 percent in three weeks.

In order to reduce food waste, the most important first step is to actually track and measure it. That’s what we preach at LeanPath every day. And once you start tracking, the next critical step is to set realistic, achievable food-waste reduction goals that your team can rally around.

With LeanPath’s new Goals module, this process is automated and intuitive. The LeanPath platform automatically analyzes an organization’s waste stream and recommends “SMART” goals: (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)ttainable, (R)elevant and (T)imebound.

Harrington’s bread waste reduction goal was SMART — 25 percent reduction in bread waste from overproduction at the Subway franchise in three weeks — and they blew it out of the water.

“We ended up reducing bread waste by 75 percent,” he says.

The key was clear communication on goals. Harrington says his enthusiasm for reducing waste also helped engage his team.

Then, it was simply a matter of reducing their morning bread production: reduce, track the impact, reduce more, track, etc. When the bread baker realized the she could reduce food waste and not work as hard — she was an evangelizer.

With that early win under his belt, Harrington says it became easier to get the rest of his team on board. “I could show them how easy it was.”

A few other things to get your troops rallied around your food-waste reduction goals:

  • Look for low-hanging fruit, the big-value targets that can get your team excited with an early win.
  • Share the goal with the kitchen staff: discuss it in the daily meetings, post it around the kitchen.
  • Share the results daily on where the kitchen is in meeting that goal.
  • Make food-waste reduction a transparent topic in your kitchen.
  • Share the successes when you meet that goal.
  • Reanalyze the food-waste data and pick another area to focus on.

If a kitchen can continually have a focused food-waste reduction goal that is visible, the results will be inspiring.  Keep tracking and keep reducing!

Chef Robb is LeanPath’s food waste fighting chef, with more than 30 years of culinary expertise and a passion for minimizing food waste in the kitchen. If you have a question or an idea for next month’s tip, email AskChefRobb@leanpath.com.

Topics: Food Waste Musings, Food Waste Prevention Newsletter, commercial kitchen