One lesson a team of students and faculty at the University of Kansas hopes we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic is how to reduce food waste at restaurants once they reopen.
The group has made a collaboration to determine what consumers and restaurants know about food waste. It’s aim is to keep food from dumpsters and into the hands of needy consumers.
As a result of the collaboration, there is now reportedly a tool that can be used to help reduce food waste.
“One of the biggest findings was there was a lot of finger pointing coming from both sides,” said Susan Harvey, assistant professor of health, sport & exercise sciences at KU, in a press release. “Consumers blamed restaurants, and the restaurants said, ‘We see what our customers are throwing out.’ It turns out it’s actually pretty equal on where the waste comes from.”
The group also found that there is little awareness about tax incentives for saving and donating food.
“The restaurants were doing their due diligence on reusing food when possible,” Harvey said. “They often didn’t realize, though, there was the donation side, or that there was the composting and animal reuse side, which is where farmers come in. When people think of a toolkit, it’s often something you read once and then it gathers dust. This is something we hope people will be able to use every day and apply continuously to their businesses.”
The KU group is proposing that posters be put up in restaurants for food-waste reduction practices and that restaurants can better help the food-supply problem that communities face when not in a pandemic.