Critical First Steps to Reduce Hotel Food Waste

By Pete Pearson Director of Food Waste, World Wildlife Fund | June 10, 2018

Hotels are on the forefront of a movement to save food-and money.

Every year, about 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or wasted around the world-a third of all the food produced. To the average American family of four, that can add up to thousands of dollars a year. What might food loss and waste cost a hotel that serves thousands of people?

In countries like the United States, food is wasted most often in grocery stores, food service industries and in homes. We all share a responsibility and have an obligation to take a bite out of this problem, including hotels and the hospitality sector. But where to start?

Fortunately, in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, dozens of hotels have been experimenting with food waste strategies. And their lessons have informed a free, open platform on the web called HotelKitchen.org. This platform provides hotel managers and staff with a simple, step-by-step guide to develop and implement a food waste strategy.

Step 1: Build a Food Waste Management Task Force

Before you can even develop a strategy, you need a cross-functional team that includes people from different departments across your hotel. It should include departments that receive, store, prep, serve, and dispose of food as well as the catering and event sales department. The team should be able to monitor how food is received, prepared, offered to guests, thrown away, what roles different employees need to play to reduce waste, how the hotel communicates food waste reduction to its guests, and what impact the effort has on the hotel's finances.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.