Luther College is partnering with Sodexo to employ a data-driven program to further reduce food waste.
Luther's partnership with Sodexo is part of the WasteWatch powered by Leanpath Program. This program's goal is to prevent an average of 50% of their food waste. Through their partnership with schools and other companies like Luther, Sodexo will be able to capture data on how, where and why food is being wasted, so they can develop and implement operational and behavioral changes that will help put an end to avoidable food waste.
"We have always tracked kitchen waste and have reduced it considerably over the past number of years. This has meant daily manual calculations of weights and costs and not always having the facts and figures at your fingertips," said Wayne Tudor, general manager for the Luther College Norse Culinary Team. "We will still do the weighing of waste after each meal as we do now but it will now be entered into a tablet to be tracked in an online program that will store historical information and point out trends and issues as they arise."
Sodexo's goal is to expand the program to all relevant Sodexo sites by the year 2025, in an effort to cut their food waste and losses from its operations in half by the same year.
Luther senior, Nick Schanstra, a management major and communication studies minor, is a Future Leader Intern at the college through Sodexo and is heading up the WasteWatch system on campus. He describes the impact of this project on the Luther community as one more way to make Luther the most sustainable campus possible.
"Through deeply driven analytics, we can pinpoint exact food types that are overproduced and then curb the waste—making Luther's food production more efficient. Food waste will be looked at differently in the future because of the added data. Here at Luther, we tracked all the waste before WasteWatch, however, it was not backed by computer analysis," said Schanstra.
"This is just one example of how we can use technology to assist in our mission to control waste and achieve a more sustainable tomorrow," said Tudor.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that approximately one-third of food produced globally for human consumption goes to waste. This is an unsettling statistic in relation to the ones depicting the number of people, approximately 820 million, who suffered from undernourishment in 2018. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN also states that there is more than enough food being produced in the world to feed everyone on the planet, so if we as a global community are able to reduce our food waste by half, the amount of food available to the malnourished would increase substantially.
"We need to accelerate the fight against food waste for the sake of humanity and in light of hunger worldwide. The rapid deployment of WasteWatch powered by Leanpath is our rally cry across Sodexo to do our part, while empowering our clients and the consumers we serve. We must track how much food is discarded at each and every one of our food service sites – and we are committed to make these figures public to bring a sense of urgency and motivate us to always do better," said Denis Machuel, Sodexo chief executive officer. "Beyond data, the program is a revolutionary approach to food services. Our chefs, supply experts, site managers and frontline teams are trained and encouraged to think creatively and innovate in the way we plan, use and serve food to reduce avoidable waste."
Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.