McNary Heights is helping reduce its food waste by conducting food waste audits!
MHES’s Food Corps members, along with the help of the student advisory council and parent volunteers from the Umatilla PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), conducted their first food audit of the school year on December 15, 2022.
MHES conducted a food waste audit to collect data on how much food is wasted and what type of food is wasted. This helps determine which foods kids like and are eating and which foods they do not like and are not eating. Nutrition staff can rethink future meal plans to eliminate food waste by doing so. Students have two main meal options daily and get to choose from various self-serve fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and milk are optional.
To collect the data, a food-separating station was set up. The station had five buckets labeled as; main meal, vegetables, fruits, milk, and soup. After students finished eating, they dropped off their trays so the food could be separated into the correct bucket. After the containers were full, they were weighed, and the amount of food was recorded. This was repeated after every grade level’s lunch.
At the end of the audit, MHES found that just under 275 pounds of food were thrown away! MHES hopes to reduce this number by continuing to conduct monthly food waste audits to encourage students to try foods they would typically not eat. Another possible way MHES plans to reduce waste is by teaching students about serving sizes and ensuring students know there are salad bar seconds.
Below are graphs showing how much waste was collected per food item and grade level.