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Reduce Wasted Food

Food service establishments generate a significant amount of wasted food costing the commercial food service industry roughly $100 billion annually. Between 4 and 10 percent of food purchased by food service operators the U.S. is thrown away before ever reaching a customer’s plate!  All businesses can benefit from reducing wasted food; saving money by reducing not only disposal costs but also over-purchasing, labor, and energy costs. Additionally, food service establishments can receive tax benefits from donating wholesome, edible food to food banks or food rescue organizations.

Explore the pages in our Reduce Wasted Food section to learn more about opportunities for your foodservice establishment.

The EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy

The EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy provides solutions for tackling how to reduce, reuse and recycle food waste. 

  1. Source Reduction – Reduce the amount of wasted food being generated;
  2. Feed People – Donate excess food to food banks, soup kitchens and shelters;
  3. Feed Animals – Provide food scraps to farmers;
  4. Industrial Uses – Provide fats for rendering; oil for fuel; food discards for animal feed production; or anaerobic digestion combined with soil amendment production or composting of the residuals
  5. Composting – Recycle food scraps into a nutrient rich soil amendment

Foodservice Spotlight

Just Fare: Preventing Food Waste, Empowering People

Food service operator Just Fare in Oakland cares about planet and people and walks the talk. They have minimized food waste, founded a community kitchen that produces high-quality meals for donation and have some of the highest staff retention rates in the industry.

Cal Dining: Food Waste Prevention

UC Berkeley’s foodservice provider Cal Dining measures types and amounts of pre-consumer food waste with specialized tracking equipment, then uses the findings to modify purchasing and food prep routines. Cal Dining has reduced food waste by 19%, equivalent to 27 tons/year, or $98,402/year in reduced food costs.