Waste Not, Want Not – How Morrison Chefs Are Reducing Food Waste
By Justin Newgaard, Corporate Executive Chef
Morrison Chefs Waste Not
Our Waste Not program is catching on with Morrison chefs nationwide. Waste Not is an online tool our chefs use to track how much food is wasted. In the United States alone, 40 percent of all food is thrown in a landfill. At Morrison, Waste Not helps us make sure we’re doing our part to stop needless waste.
When Waste Not kicked off in February, only a handful of accounts were committed to reducing food waste in our kitchens. Now, only six months later, approximately 175 Morrison chefs are on board, measuring food waste daily and posting and tracking their results online.
Why I Pick Sustainable Practices
Like all of our chefs, I have a passion for nutritious food that is good for the environment and consumers. Sustainable food piqued my interest 14 years ago when my daughter was born. Back then, the dairy industry injected growth hormones into milk so it could be produced 24 hours a day. I didn’t want her drinking milk made from hormones, which led my wife and I on a journey to find new sources of food for our family that continues today. (Fortunately, this practice no longer exists). This defining moment made me start thinking more about how the food we eat is sourced, impacts us, and impacts our planet.
It’s also no secret that reducing food waste has significant cost benefits. Already, Morrison hospitals participating in the Waste Not program have seen food waste drop by five percent. In turn, food costs are down by two percent. To an average person, that may sound small, and it is until you consider the scale of Compass Group and Morrison Healthcare: a two percent reduction in food waste throughout Compass could save up to $68 million annually!
To Infinity & Beyond – Driving the Waste Not Message
After Cary Neff, Morrison’s VP, Culinary, asked me to drive our Waste Not program, I wanted to raise awareness of the program among our chefs while also making sure we all had some fun as part of this process. After all, this is something that we should want to do, not something we are forced to do.
I started by speaking to our corporate and regional executive chefs to spread the word about reducing food waste in all of our accounts. Next, to keep food waste ‘top of mind’, I developed a series of communications, ranging from emails, telephone calls, webinars and a series of Waste Hack videos to get people excited about stopping food waste. The videos especially, helped everyday consumers (not just professional chefs) think more about “wasting not”.
Stop Food Waste Day
While we’re in the fight to waste not and stop food waste every day, once a year we celebrate Stop Food Waste Day, a day dedicated to educating and igniting change around food waste. This year, there were cook-offs between competing chefs at Morrison hospitals across the country. Each chef prepared nutritious meals while educating their onlookers about reducing food waste. Many of the accounts even donated their meals to local nonprofit organizations!
Partnering with Nonprofits to Waste Not
I’ve also worked with various chefs to contact nonprofit food recovery organizations in our major markets. A great example of this is our team at Mission Health that donates food on a weekly basis to a local community partner, Asheville Poverty Initiative. Together, they’re providing at-risk populations with delicious, fresh, healthy food while also stopping food waste.
Asheville isn’t the only place where we’re having this kind of success. It’s widespread in different sections of the nation. At the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, regional executive chef James Watton has struck a partnership with Black Bear Composting, an organics recycling company, to pick up all kitchen waste from bins three times each week at no cost. In return, Black Bear donates 8,000 pounds of compost to the medical center annually.
At the Research Medical Center in Kansas City, regional executive chef Paul Holdshoe has teamed up with Missouri Organics to pick up food waste, soiled paper and some food service products for compost. We are working with Missouri Organics to roll out this program out soon to nine other locations in Kansas City.
All of these efforts have created momentum for Waste Not that will only continue to build.
Getting in the Kitchen
All of our chefs are busy helping patients, customers and other associates, so it’s my job to complement their efforts and continue building momentum for Waste Not in their markets. On my visits to Morrison hospitals in a six-state region, I always visit the dish room to inspect the food after the café has closed. If I can help educate the chefs on how to save vegetable scraps to make stock, or other ways to reduce waste, we’ll make more strides toward our goals.
But there’s much more I can do, including more research. To that end, I’ve started a cost analysis on how to use an entire stalk of broccoli. We only use 60 percent of each broccoli stalk now, but if we could use most of the rest of the stalk in a stir-fry or other use, we could raise the utilization to 95 percent – and really cut down on food waste.
Sustainability and programs such as Waste Not are among the major reasons I enjoy working here. With the combination of Compass Group’s commitment and purchasing power, I’m convinced we can help change the landscape for food waste. Not only will we save money, but we can have an impact nationally by reducing the amount of food going into landfills and raising awareness of the 40 percent of food that is never eaten. It’s a win for our clients and an enormous benefit for communities where we set up food recovery programs.
Celebrating Our Chefs
The success of Morrison and Compass Group is founded on delicious food and the great people who make it. Compass Group is the world’s largest employer of chefs, making our culinary talent the Heart of the House. This August we will celebrate Chef Appreciation Week (August 13-17) to recognize the incredible people behind the food. Join us in celebrating them by posting why you #LoveYourChef on social media.
Join the Morrison Healthcare Family
Looking for meaningful work helping people? Do you want to marry your passions and serving others? Check out available team member or management opportunities to join the Compass One Healthcare and Morrison Healthcare family. We believe in the Power of Food to change lives and are proud of the opportunities we have each day to help people and serve alongside world-class clients.
Morrison is a proud part of Compass One Healthcare and Compass Group USA.