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How this healthcare system focused its team and cut its food waste in half

By Sam Smith, Director of Marketing  ///  November 24, 2021


Aramark Regional Executive Chef Damon Mangano oversees the food and nutrition services at a large Midwestern healthcare system running 11 hospitals. Tracking and preventing food waste with Leanpath since 2017, the system’s kitchens have reduced their cumulative waste 50%.

Chef Damon says from the start, his chefs were startled by the cost of the food they were wasting, which teams see in the Leanpath system as soon as items are tracked.

“From the very start, when cooks saw what the food waste was costing, folk were saying things like, ‘That’s $5000 in a year. Wow, imagine all the stuff we could buy if we didn’t throw that chicken away every night.’”

Chef Damon’s culinary teams talk about the cost of food waste in their pre-shift meetings.

“And it runs both ways,” he says. “It’s, ‘look how much that food waste cost,’ but also, ‘look how much we saved by reducing that waste.’”

Continuing that emphasis on cost, the team has focused on reducing the food waste that costs the most: proteins. 

“One of the main things that we preach, not only because of a waste but for better quality, is that we don't pre-cook proteins, only batch cooking. We say, ‘Only “S’s” in steam wells.’ So that’s sauces, starches and soups.”

The food waste photos captured by the team’s Leanpath 360 Trackers have helped identify food waste problems as well. Looking at waste from fruit trim gives them another opportunity to inspect what their vendor is supplying. Looking at photos of prepped items they can check quality--for example, whether an item was overcooked. 

“Chef Damon will pull out the pictures of trim waste and show them how they could improve on their cuts,” says Aramark Healthcare District Manager Allysun Selick. “They see how they’ve improved. They say, ‘I'm getting so good and I'm so close to the skin; I've reduced my trim waste by this much.’ Just tremendous engagement.”

That engagement has been a huge part of the health system’s success in cutting food waste in half with Leanpath and maintaining low waste levels through periods of fluctuating demand.

Topics: Food Waste News