Understanding the effects of food waste reduction methods and the implementation of a food waste program
Leitch, Alicia Rae
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Approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year totaling nearly a third of all food produced in the world.1 Food service operations are one of the leading contributors to food waste.2 Decreasing the amount of food waste is an emerging priority of the United States Department of Agriculture. Large-scale food service operations such as university dining facilities may be prime location to implement food waste reduction strategies in order to reduce overall food waste and increase sustainability. Despite the notable contribution of large-scale food service operations to food waste, there is a lack of research on the effectiveness food waste reduction strategies in such operations. The research presented here seeks to address this research need of identifying food waste reduction strategies and their effectiveness within large food service operations through a systematic review of literature using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement guidelines. Findings from this systematic review were synthesized to design and implement a cross-sectional pre and post study evaluating the effectiveness of two food waste reduction strategies including dining facility changes as well as a large service style renovation. Findings of the systematic review indicate that implementing food waste reduction strategies are effective in reducing overall food waste. Analysis of the cross-sectional pre and post study indicated a positive effect of dining hall renovation on reducing food waste. Findings from this study provide valuable information to inform food waste research and evidence on designing policies and practices to reduce food waste in large-scale food service operations.