Giving Back Pays Back, Big Time
Socially responsible waste management leads to a healthier balance sheet—and better morale
Tossing perfectly good food out daily is one of the most painful and expensive matters about the foodservice business. For decades, there was a sense of helplessness: Arcane regulations and fear of lawsuits made food waste diversion more trouble than it was worth.
In recent years, food waste management has taken its rightful place under the recycling umbrella. It’s a practice that can save restaurateurs money, while creating socially and environmentally conscientious solutions. Many foodservice innovators are ready to divert surplus food away from landfills and straight to those who need it, while netting operators a sizeable tax deduction.
“With more than 80 billion pounds of food making its way to landfills each year, foodservice businesses play a huge role in reducing food waste,” says Jasmine Crowe, founder of Goodr. The nationally lauded, Atlanta-based startup uses mobile technology to power an end-to-end logistics solution, allowing foodservice businesses of all types and sizes to donate surplus food as tax-deductible charitable donations instead of throwing it away.
With Goodr’s technology, businesses can measure their food waste, set up seamless food donation programs and receive tax deductions for their food donations,” explains Crowe. “We provide detailed analytics on the types of food most wasted at your establishment and reports on nonprofits your business supports.”
While not all food rescue services are as tech-forward as Goodr, even the grassroots ones have cleared the operational hurdles of pickup/transport, partnering with local hunger-fighting organizations and providing tax-deductible receipts.
Chicago-area charitable organization Fight2Feed says its all-volunteer team rescues between 8,000 pounds to 11,000 pounds of food every month and either donates it to local food pantries and shelters or prepares it and serves directly to the needy. Businesses and people have many ways to contribute: volunteering, donating their spaces, helping to organize fundraising events, attending/donating funds or supplying surplus food.
“Sweat equity is key,” emphasizes Fight2Feed CEO/founder Jiwon McCartney. “People in the foodservice industry can lead feeding missions and take on leadership roles to help us get more sponsorships.”
The organization’s current list of sponsors and partners includes Samuel Adams, Imperfect Produce and Reinhart Foodservice, publisher of Restaurant Inc. magazine.
“Companies want to be socially responsible. It’s been a big initiative in the past five years,” says McCartney. “Many companies are introducing social responsibility into the workplace.”
If you work at a business that’s too old school to consider partnering with a startup or community organization, note that established waste solution companies like Rubicon Global have food waste and grease/oil recycling programs among their services. With entire municipal governments entrusting their waste management programs to the RUBICONSmartCity solution, there’s really no reason for a private business to say that food waste reduction is too risky.
For a foodservice operator, the possibility of improving the business balance sheet, seeing surplus food go to overlooked neighbors, and increasing staff morale through fun social impact activity is an