If you are an event planner, you know the importance of “good food” at in-person events, which essentially means serving the right kind of food, ensuring it’s delicious, in the right quantity. But the events that involve food service or catering options, usually also encounter a lot of food wastage. Since, one of the worst nightmares for any event organizer is “running out of food”, they usually order more than the actual requirement and this overordering of food often leads to ~ 20% of the same food being wasted during an event. This additionally leads to wastage of other resources, such as money, energy, water, and fuel.   

Minimizing food wastage at an event has always been a major concern. In addition to preventing resource wastage, it’s also important to ensure no food or cartons end up in landfills, adding to the already alarming levels of greenhouse gases.  

In this blog, we will have a look at some of the tips for reducing your food footprint but before that let us have a look at some numbers.   

As per the Environmental Protection Agency, a massive dump of food ends up in landfills or other solid waste dump yards. According to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, around 40% of food that is grown and transported across various parts of the states is never consumed. These statistics look even more worrisome considering the fact that almost 2/10 Americans do not have access to enough food to eat or have the right kind of food they want, according to Newsweek.   

Impact of food waste on the environment   

  1. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is released by decomposed food in landfills which is considered to be 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  
  2. Nearly 70% of food that rots in landfills also affect and waste the entire land which otherwise could have been utilized to grow yields.  
  3. Wasted food in the US consumes about 26% of freshwater.  

Let us now look at some of the ways to reduce an event's food footprint   

  1. Evaluate food needs and attendee preferences   

It is important to understand your attendees' food preferences before making arrangements and this can be done by asking them about their dietary choices during registration. Having prior information can help event planners design a suitable menu with the chef and work towards fulfilling expectations, without wastage.   

Also, one can evaluate past records to understand what kind of food people liked or didn’t like at all at previous events. For example, there is no use in ordering tons of freshly baked buns if your attendee base comprises health-conscious people who would rather prefer fruits and a granola bar.   

  1. Choose local traders, reduce food transportation 

Wherever possible choose local caterers and traders and go for in-season food items for menus that can be locally sourced. This is also a great way to boost the local economy and promote an event’s reputation by supporting locally produced food from small-scale traders and farmers.   

  1. Provide composting stations

Putting up food waste stations that are easy to spot, along with properly labelled bins for wastage segregation should be another integral part of your event. Providing food waste bins for disposing leftover food will help attendees sort out waste in the right manner.   

  1. Strategize variety and estimate  

We are aware of how decomposing food in landfills produces methane which is nearly 30 times more impactful than CO2. Additionally, a lot of CO2 is emitted during the production, processing, and transportation of food. To limit this   

  1. Caterers should be given realistic figures so they don’t overestimate the food requirements. 
  2. Serving plate size and overall portion size should be reduced to avoid excessive food wastage.  
  3. A sense of indulgence can be created. Event planners can emphasize the variety and experience of food that is being served, implying eating fewer means you can try a variety of options!    
  1. Reduce the quantity of processed food 

We know how all factory-produced food requires more energy and heat for their processing. The carbon footprint of a processed food is usually very high. For example, frozen fries will have a higher carbon footprint than freshly made fries.   

Serving plant-based items on the food menu that is minimally processed can make a lot of difference.  

  1. Plan ahead on recovering leftover food 

It is possible and advisable to plan beforehand the ways to recover leftover food. This food can be donated to any local charity or a food organization that feeds a community. The statistics mentioned at the beginning of this blog indicate how grim food insecurity in the US is and food shortage is a big issue that just cannot be overlooked. Therefore, planning and focusing on methods to recover leftover food is a wise way to tackle food scarcity, preventing its wastage.   

When it comes to hosting events, food should be properly managed along with other aspects of an event. All efforts should be focused not just on creating a memorable event experience for the attendees but also towards ways to minimize food wastage. There are several options for event planners to explore like compost creation for used, thrown away, or half-eaten food items, livestock feeding, food donation, etc. Food wastage in an event is unavoidable but what an event planner can control is creating awareness among their team members and attendees and making efforts to minimize this waste and recycle unused food.   

If you want to know more about how to effectively manage your in-person and virtual events with minimal efforts book a demo right away!