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Guckenheimer Wins 2017 StopWaste Award for Food Waste Prevention

Measuring food waste in a Guckenheimer kitchen

Guckenheimer received a 2017 Business Efficiency Award for Excellence in Reducing Wasted Food in Alameda County from StopWaste. Guckenheimer is an on-site food service management company with locations throughout the country. In 2016, all 13 corporate cafeterias and restaurants Guckenheimer manages in Alameda County joined StopWaste’s Smart Kitchen Initiative for one year, committing to tracking pre-consumer food waste and surplus edible food and implementing strategies for food waste prevention and food donation. Over the course of the year, the 13 sites combined reduced pre-consumer food waste by almost 68,000 pounds or 42% compared to baseline. To foster the sharing of experiences and best practices for food waste prevention, Guckenheimer facilitated monthly group calls among participating chefs and managers.

 

A staggering 40% of all food in the US goes to waste before it ever reaches a plate, and the problem is just as prevalent in our homes as it is in restaurants, institutional kitchens and corporate cafeterias. Now Guckenheimer, one of the nation’s largest food service management companies, has stepped up to the plate to help tackle the problem. They manage 13 corporate cafeterias in Alameda County, many of them serving thousands of employees every day. In 2016, Guckenheimer committed all 13 sites to tracking pre-consumer food waste for one year, as part of the Smart Kitchen Initiative, a program by Alameda County public agency StopWaste.

 

“We wanted to learn about opportunities to improve our practices because wasted food also means wasted money,” recalled Mark Crilly, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Guckenheimer, who led the effort. It involved setting up a special station in each kitchen where pre-consumer food waste—such as trimmings, expired ingredients and un-served, prepared foods—were weighed, categorized and electronically logged. Regular reports generated by the tracking system then provided feedback about patterns and recurring waste, so that staff could implement strategies for food waste prevention and donation of surplus food.

Over the course of the project duration, all sites combined reduced pre-consumer food waste by 68,000 lbs or 42%, compared to a baseline set at the beginning. Many different changes to kitchen operations contributed to Guckenheimer’s impressive waste reduction results. For example, several cafeterias learned from the tracking data that soup was a frequently discarded item, so they offered free sides of soup, or sold leftover soup in pints for customers to purchase and take home. Another kitchen switched their salad bar trays for more shallow pans so that less food was leftover at the end of the day, without making the bar look empty or sparse. Regular conference calls among all participating kitchen chefs and managers helped foster exchange and sharing of progress, insights, and ideas.

 

“I am proud of the work our staff at each location has done,” noted Crilly. “Kitchens are extremely fast-paced workplaces, and making time to evaluate and act upon the tracking data certainly requires commitment.” That commitment paid off—earlier this year, StopWaste honored Guckenheimer with the Award for Excellence in Reducing Wasted Food in Alameda County.

 

To learn more about the Smart Kitchen Initiative, visit www.stopwaste.org/smart-kitchen-initiative.

For more information about the 2017 StopWaste Business Efficiency Awards visit www.StopWaste.org/2017awards.

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