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Daily routines lead to big food waste reduction at the University of Virginia

By Sam Smith, Director of Marketing  ///  January 26, 2022


UVA Dine, operated by Aramark, has been tracking food waste with Leanpath since 2018. The team has racked up impressive results using the program, including reducing their food waste by 59%. They have achieved these results by using tracking data to identify food waste instances and trends and addressing them with their kitchen teams.

“I pull our Leanpath transaction report every morning for the previous day and look for trends,” explains Chef Louis Kalina. “People’s habits can change, and sometimes those habits can lead to waste.”

For instance, in doing his daily reviews of Leanpath food waste data, Chef Lou found his evening kitchen crew was consistently tracking beef waste. He talked to the team and found that they were cooking a batch of burgers too soon to closing, which was consistently leading to waste from overproduction. Chef Lou explained the food waste implications and they instituted a cook-to-order burger program at the end of the day that brought the waste under control.

“When I see food waste trends, it brings up questions. Why did this waste happen? Did we not batch cook? Was our portioning wrong? It gives insight into a lot of behaviors and habits. ”

“We hold our people accountable for food waste, but we don’t penalize them,” Chef Lou emphasizes. 

“You’ve got to keep it positive,” adds Aramark District Executive Chef David Mason. “We need to recognize where we are not being efficient so that we can improve.” 

The university’s focus on reducing food waste became even more critical when COVID hit. 

“Our volumes were significantly down,” says Chef Lou. “So anytime food waste is being created or our teams are not being efficient it’s going to have an impact. With less volume this past year in our operations, it was even more important to track every single piece of food coming in and out of our locations to meet our financial targets.”

At a regional level, the Leanpath system allows Chef David to monitor food waste data across all six sites, including Chef Lou’s kitchen. The data shows Chef Lou and his team are leading in reducing food waste, so Chef Lou will soon be training other UVA Dine sites on food waste prevention best practices.

Topics: Case Study