The Average Amount of Solid Food Waste Produced at the Howe Hall Cafeteria and an Investigation of its Causes
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This paper will discuss the average amount of food being produced as waste at Dalhousie’s Howe Hall cafeteria. Included, is the average amount that each the patrons and kitchen are responsible for. In addition, we investigated the causes of this food waste and recommended ways to reduce it. Our research involved a mixed-method approach including a literature review, physical waste audit, overall daily food waste weighing, and a survey distributed to cafeteria patrons. We found that an overwhelming 500 pounds of food waste is produced and sent to the local compost facility on a daily basis. Of this amount, approximately half is contributed by the patrons who eat there and half is contributed by the kitchen. Time restrictions did not allow us to investigate the causes of kitchen waste. However, by means of a 15 question survey, 47% of patrons account poor food quality/taste to food waste. Upon investigating solutions to helping reduce this waste, our main barrier was indeed the accountability of food taste/quality by cafeteria patrons. Further examination of the surveys, however, revealed many great suggestions including improved patron-management communication and changing the meal plan from all-you-can-eat to pay-as-you-go. Overall, both students and management showed concern for the amount of food waste being produced at Howe Hall cafeteria. Among other things, this paper recommends further research to determine options for reducing the amount of food waste being contributed by the kitchen.