Reducing Food Waste at Queen’s University

Reducing Food Waste at Queen’s University  

Did you know October 21-27th was Waste Reduction Week in Canada? The United Nation’s (UN) Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) defines food waste as the discarded or alternative (non-food) use of food that is safe and nutritious for human consumption.  

Have you ever decided not to eat an apple because it was shaped weird? Or a banana that had black spots on it?  There is enough food in the world to feed every single individual; Yet, over 815 million people are starving or malnourished.  

Wasted food does not only account to the food itself being wasted, but also the wasted resources that was invested into growing, producing, and transporting the food. If not composted properly, food waste leads to the production of the toxic greenhouse gas, methane in landfills. Learn more here.  

At Queen’s Hospitality Services, we strive to continuously improve our practices to be more sustainable. Over the years, we have worked to implement initiatives and provide resources for our students to build awareness and participate in sustainable practices.  

Three Ways We Reduce Food Waste in Dining:

  1. Forecasting: We use historically documented data to forecast daily attendance at the dining halls. Using this data, the culinary team plans and prepares the expected portions for the meal period to effectively reduce food waste.   
  2. Daily Donations: Since the early 2000’s Hospitality Services has partnered with Soul Food and Loving Spoonful to donate appropriate leftover food from food operations on campus. Every evening left over foods are collected from dining halls and select retail locations by these organizations and donated to local city shelters.  From October 22, 2019 to May 29, 2019, 36,748 pounds of greenhouse gases were diverted from entering the atmosphere. 
  3. LeanPath Spark: This year Hospitality Services is implementing LeanPath Spark at Leonard and Ban Righ Dining Halls. This food waste prevention technology allows us to track pre and post-consumer food waste by incorporating floor scales and integrating digital signage to track, educate and act.  
    In the kitchens, this technology will allow our culinary team to immediately see the impact of food waste at the time of production and preparation and effectively act and educate staff with a goal of reducing food waste. In the dining halls, Leanpath Spark will track post-consumer waste and subsequently educate our consumers on the impact they can have by helping reduce food waste.  

Three Ways You Can Reduce Food Waste in Dining

  1. Ask for Different Portion SizesEntering an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall can be exciting, and with so many options it can get overwhelming. If you wish to sample all or most of the food items on the menus, ask for different size portions. Our team is happy to accommodate! 
  2. Do a Lap FirstOur dining halls have so much to offer. To help decide, first look at all the options with a quick walk around. Once decided, take a second trip and choose your meals (mix and match if you’d like!). Check the dining hall menus on our website or Queen’s Dining App to become more familiar with the options. This is a great way to find your favourites and plan on which dining hall you would like to eat at each day.  
    P.S., each dining hall is on their own 5-week rotation, so each place offers something different! 
  3. Eat mindfully: Be mindful of what you have on your plate and what you are eating. Enjoy each bite, and if you are not comfortably full, go for seconds! Read more about mindful eating here.  

For more tips and tricks about dining on campus visit: https://dining.queensu.ca/nutrition-blog/dining-hall-hacks/ 


Jaspreet Multani is a 4th-year undergraduate student at Queen’s University completing her Honours degree in Global Developmental Studies. Jaspreet is currently the Student Health and Wellness Marketing Intern at Queen’s Hospitality Services by Sodexo. Her main interests are sustainability, food waste, food security, and nutritional and sustainability-oriented marketing.

Article reviewed and edited by Jessica Bertrand, MAN, RD
Registered Dietitian and Wellness Manager for Queen’s Hospitality Service