Food Waste Auditing: How to drastically reduce food waste within our public educational institutions

According to FeedingAmerica.org, each year, Americans throw away up to 119 billion pounds of food. Coincidently, food waste reduction has recently become a major part of American’s lives now, and schools have a big part to play in developing a sustainable food system. Food waste audits is a practical strategy for reducing food waste in educational institutions – it is a methodical procedure that involves monitoring, measuring, and evaluating food waste in order to pinpoint areas that may be improved upon and put waste-reduction plans into action.

First and foremost, while performing food waste audits in schools, it’s crucial to rely on reliable sources and organizations. Guidelines and tools for performing food waste audits in schools are provided by reputable organizations including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and National tools Defense Council (NRDC).

Setting up a baseline is the first stage in performing a food waste audit. This entails counting the amount of food that is wasted in the canteen or other eating establishments. Clear instructions on how to measure and manage food waste are provided by trustworthy sources like the EPA’s “Food Recovery Hierarchy”. Schools may make sure that their findings are reliable and comparable to local or national statistics by employing standardized procedures.

The classification of the many food waste kinds produced is a crucial component of food waste audits. Food waste may be divided into categories such as plate waste, spoilage, preparation waste, and leftovers to achieve this. Consistency and dependability in the audit process are guaranteed by using recognized definitions and categories from reliable sources, such as the USDA’s “School Food Waste Assessment Guide”.

After the food waste has been categorized, it’s critical to conduct an analysis of the information to spot trends and patterns. Schools may use this to better understand the causes of food waste production and pinpoint areas for development. NRDC’s “Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40% of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill” and other reputable sources offer information on the main reasons why food loss occurs in schools, including overproduction, poor meal planning, and student food preferences.

Schools can create initiatives to cut back on food waste based on the auditor’s results. Implementing portion control measures, enhancing meal preparation and planning, supporting food recovery programs, and informing students and staff about the value of preventing food waste are some examples of these techniques. To make sure that the plans are supported by data and efficient at minimizing food waste, it’s crucial to consult reputable institutions and sources while establishing them. In order to maintain efforts to reduce food waste, monitoring and analyzing the success of the solutions put into practice is essential. The “Food Recovery Hierarchy” by the EPA is one trustworthy resource that offers advice on how to monitor and assess development over time. Schools can identify accomplishments and areas for development by tracking and analyzing the results of the initiatives, then making modifications as necessary.

As a result, food waste auditing is a useful tool for schools to recognize and manage the problem of food waste. Schools may make sure that their food waste audits are founded on correct information and best practices by relying on trustworthy sources and institutions. Schools may establish research-based initiatives to minimize food loss and build a more sustainable food system in their communities by recording, measuring, and evaluating food waste. Schools may reduce food waste by continually improving their efforts via monitoring and assessment, which will ultimately help create a more sustainable future.

References:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2017-12/documents/guide_to_conducting_student_food_waste_audit_-_nov_20_2017.pdf
  2. https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Student_Food_Waste_Audit_FINAL_4-6-2017.pdf
  3. https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf
  4. https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-hierarchy

By Gaura Jha
Student Volunteer @ O2I

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