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Wednesday, May 31, 2023


UH dining partner aims for zero food waste by 2020 end

More than one third of all food produced is wasted, adding up to a value of $1 trillion dollars, according to National Geographic. | Donna Keeya/The Cougar

More than one third of all food produced is wasted, adding up to a value of $1 trillion dollars, according to National Geographic. | Donna Keeya/The Cougar

University of Houston’s dining partner Chartwells Higher Education is aiming for zero waste to landfills from Moody and Cougar Woods dining halls by the end of 2020. 

Prior to students being served their food, initiatives are taken to spread awareness about food waste in an effort to prevent it. Campaigns are hosted to emphasize these values so students are more aware on why and how to avoid food waste. 

In order to combat post-consumer waste well before it lands on the dish return we host awareness campaigns such as Waste Warriors, Project Clean Plate and Stop Food Waste Day,” said Alexcis Mendoza, district marketing manager at Chartwells. “The goal of these campaigns is to educate guests on the benefits of reducing food waste and monitoring portion sizes.”

Beyond events and platforms to bring awareness and encourage stopping food waste, there are also behind the scene actions being taken as well to reduce food waste.

“The Waste Not program consists of each unit kitchen carefully tracking and reporting waste by the pound, on a weekly basis,” Mendoza said, “and is focused on production waste, over production and unused or out-of-date inventory.”

Both Moody and Cougar Woods dining halls follow the “Just in Time” ordering process which helps prevent overordering by receiving smaller deliveries everyday compared to larger deliveries less frequently. 

“To ensure sustainable practices from the start, we cook in small batches daily using ingredients from our ‘Just in Time’ ordering process,” Mendoza said. “In addition to preparing food in small batches, we also cross utilize ingredients to assist in reducing kitchen waste.”

A major factor in maintaining sustainability is partnerships with local businesses and food vendors. Chartwells has a variety of partners they collaborate with to achieve this. 

“Partnerships are extremely important in our waste reduction journey,” Mendoza said, “and we are proud to share that we partner with Campus Kitchen, Food Recovery Network and Second Servings to donate surplus food to the campus community and surrounding areas.” 

Chartwells also works with local businesses to further sustainability, including the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program.

With food waste that is not able to be filtered out through the prevention campaigns, alternate courses are taken to responsibly dispose of it. 

“Because having post-consumer waste is inevitable,” Mendoza said. “We are proud to be working on a partnership with a local facility that will compost any food left behind.” 

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