Eliminating food waste
UC Davis Dining Services actively works to reduce the amount of food that is not consumed in the dining facilities on campus. There is an inevitable loss in food preparation that occurs (i.e. apple cores, banana peels, egg shells), yet we are diligent and motivated to utilize opportunities to decrease this amount both in and outside of the kitchen (pre- and post-consumer). We are driven to see the food that isn’t utilized in preparation and that is leftover on a diner’s plate to be first reduced and second utilized as a resource rather than lost as a waste.
Food Recovery Hierarchy
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is just one agency that is concerned with food waste, food recovery, and food insecurity. One tool to address these issues is the Food Recover Hierarchy. According to the EPA, the “Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes actions organizations can take to prevent and divert wasted food. Each tier of the Food Recovery Hierarchy focuses on different management strategies for your wasted food.
The top levels of the hierarchy are the best ways to prevent and divert wasted food because they create the most benefits for the environment, society and the economy.” (Source: http://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-hierarchy)
Actions UC Davis Dining Services is taking that is in line with the Food Recovery Hierarchy
The Just Ask program at UC Davis Dining Services provides guests with an option of customizing a prepared dish by encouraging them to request alterations from our chefs. Signs are posted around the Dining Commons reminding students that they can ask for a dish without sides, in a half portion or without a bun. The Just Ask program empowers students to reduce their waste, while also opening a conversation for them to request their dish in the same manner that they would serve it for themselves at home.
The Try-a-Taste program at UC Davis provides guests in the all-you-care-to-eat campus dining commons an opportunity to sample a plated entrée or soup before taking an entire serving of food. This helps guests in the Dining Commons reduce their food waste. Try-a-Taste led to a 40% food waste reduction when it was started. Diners share that they really enjoy Try-a-Taste. It has shown to lead to greater satisfaction in the dining commons.
Reusable 4oz china ramekins or 2oz ceramic soup spoons are used as sample vessels. Platform cooks prepare a flight of samples that are available next to the fully plated items or crock of soup. A larger ramekin is available at the point of service for students to discard empty sample cups/spoons. Cooks continue to provide fresh samples throughout the meal time, just as they provide fresh plates of the full meal.
"Love Food, Don't Waste" Audits
Each quarter, UC Davis Dining Services holds a waste audit in which a team of UC Davis students and Dining Services' employees work together to collect, sort and weigh dining guests’ meal waste at each of our three dining facilities. As our guests bring their plates to the dish return, they are asked to sort their waste into the following categories: “edible food waste” (like coleslaw or a bread stick left on someone’s plate), “inedible food waste” (like a corn cob or a banana peel), “liquid waste” (any liquids, not including ice) and lastly “napkin waste.”
We work diligently to understand how to reduce the amount of uneaten food that is returned to the dining commons dish return.Give us your feedback by filling out our food waste survey.
Our waste audits revealed that our food waste average decreased by 30% from 2.31 oz/person in Fall 2012 to1.6oz/person in Spring 2015. See below for previous waste audit reports.
In June 2008 UC Davis Dining Services removed all trays from the all-you-care-to-eat operations on campus. This strategic change was motivated by a responsibility to reduce food waste, energy use, water use, and chemical use – and has been very successful. Data from audits before and after this change show food waste decreased by nearly 30 percent, as well as saving more than 50,000 gallons of water.
Feed hungry people
Food Recovery Network
The Food Recovery Network collects and donates dining commons over-produced food to local community members in need. Currently, food is being donated to Davis Community Meals and Cesar Chavez Plaza. The Food Recovery Network’s Davis chapter was started by Stefanie Scott, a third year environmental science major, in 2012. In collaboration Dining Services chefs, sous chefs, cooks, and others, FRN regularly deploys over 10 volunteers to collect and deliver over produced food. In 2013, UC Davis Dining Services donated about 1262.4lbs of overproduced food to the Food Recovery Network.
Interested in volunteering? Contact the Food Recovery Network at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UC Davis Dining Services currently is not diverting food for animal feeding. In diverting our leftover food for recovery, we are emphasizing providing the edible food to local community members and the inedible food to create valuable products- renewable energy and rich compost.
Pre-consumer food waste (kitchen scraps) is collected by ASUCD Project Compost at many retail units including the Silo Union and several coffee kiosks around campus. Project Compost, a student led organization, takes this food waste and turns it into nutrient-rich compost at the UC Davis Student Farm.
Food to energy
Pre- and post-consumer food waste (i.e. meat, dairy, eggs, left-over food) and other organic materials (compostable items, paper products, napkins, etc.) is collected by UC Davis Dining Services in all three resident dining rooms, the Gunrock Pub, University Catering, the Silo, Scrubs, the Hub and the Aggie Stadium. Each of our retail locations offers packaging that can be composted or recycled. This organic matter is either sent to the UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (READ) to be converted into campus electricity or sent to a composting facility in Zamora and turned into nutrient rich compost for local farms and vintners.
READ is an anaerobic digester located on UC Davis campus grounds, reducing the environmental transportation costs. This innovative technology takes material that was not only not utilized but creating a negative impact in landfills and turning it into a value added product: clean energy! To learn more about READ an anaerobic digestion, see the follow information:
CleanWorld Breaks Ground On Innovative Anaerobic Digestion Facility at UC Davis, September 12, 2013
Farm to Fork to Fuel
Anaerobic Digestion and its Applications report, EPA, October 2015
Recycling Cooking Oil
Cooking oil used in dining facilities is collected, retrieved, and recycled. The oil is converted to biodiesel fuel.
The remaining amount of waste that is not recovered, recycled, or converted to energy is going to the landfill. UC Davis Dining Services participates actively with UC Davis campus initiatives, as well as local and regional task forces to continue to reduce the amount of this material. Students are engaged in these efforts and are integral in our strategy for continuous improvement in operations that lead to reduction in waste creation. Dining Services is able to divert over 85% of "waste" from landfills.