Student Voice


April 25, 2024



Sodexo strives to reduce food waste

November 10, 2010

Sodexo serves about 25,000 meals each week. They have been working on a new program called Lean Path to reduce waste at UW-River Falls.

“Waste management is a high priority for Dining Services. With Sodexo’s new program we are able to track and weigh all of the waste that we go through,” said Dining Services Director Jerry Waller. “So we are putting less wasted food into the trash. It’s just a way of being aware of how much food is being thrown away from a pre-production standpoint. It really minimizes Sodexo’s food costs.”

Overproduction costs started at about $1,700 a week and is now down to about $1,400 a week due to the new Lean Path program to cut down waste.

“The trend has been going down, it has been going the right way. When we started, our overproduction was about $300 more a week than it is now,” said Residential Dining Manager Jim Falk. “And the trend that we want to see is to make sure that it’s decreasing instead of going up.  This week it went down 13.3 percent since the beginning.”

Sodexo employees are to weigh everything on a scale before they throw it out. The food waste is recorded and posted on the wall of the kitchen so the staff can monitor their progress.

“I think it has opened a lot of people’s eyes as far as waste and what kind of waste that we have. And how we can control the waste,” Falk said. “It is a good tool as long as everyone does their part. And the staff has really bought into it, so that is good.”

Dining Services first made the push to cut down on food waste two years ago when they stopped using trays.

“It’s really easy for anyone to go up to a buffet and take a whole tray worth of food and only eat half of it,” said Executive Chef Jim Morris. “Everybody is very conscientious on trying to minimize waste.  What we can do better and how we can improve. The goal is to see continuous improvement week after week.”

Morris said, Sodexo goes through about one ton of broccoli per month and about 450 gallons of milk per week.

“Any time you highlight something and bring it to the forefront of somebody, you tend to focus on it more,” Morris said. “Any time you can show improvement, it’s a good thing. We want to be good stewards of our environment and take care of it. Whether it’s power or water or food waste.”

Future plans for Dining Services consist of a possible vegetable garden, as well as other waste management strategies.

“We are trying to do the same thing with power and energy. So I’m not turning the oven on the first thing in the morning, so that I’m not wasting energy,” Morris said. “Also trying not to waste water, all of those things add up. We even use the tops of the pineapples as decorative flowers. We try to do everything we can to reduce waste, it’s always an improvement.”