Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Leanpath Project: "STOP Pause Weigh the Waste"

Press Release, Bar Harbor, ME, October, 2013

Rupununi, LeanPath and Healthy Acadia Partner on Food Waste Prevention

On Monday, September 23, Rupununi: American Bar and Grill and LeanPath launched a month-long pilot project to prevent food waste in the kitchen. Throughout the next month, Rupununi will use a LeanPath tracking device, consisting of a scale, a touch screen, and data analytics, to measure pre-consumer food waste in their kitchen. Facilitated by Healthy Acadia’s Gleaning Initiative, the goal of the project is for management and employees to identify and adopt effective waste prevention practices and raise awareness about the negative impacts of food waste in our communities.

Rupununi, a restaurant located in Bar Harbor, connected with LeanPath through Healthy Acadia this past summer. LeanPath, an international company based in Portland, Oregon, is a leader in the movement to reduce the negative impacts of food waste. Rupununi owner Michael Boland initially approached Healthy Acadia’s Gleaning Coordinator, Hannah Semler, to discuss composting options for restaurants. Through discussions and research, it became clear that a waste prevention strategy would the best and most cost-effective next step to designing a food waste reduction and management service for his restaurants. Healthy Acadia then connected LeanPath with Rupununi, and the pilot project emerged.

“We see the serious problems created by food waste, and we are excited by this opportunity to explore an innovative way to address the issue,” stated Michael Boland, owner of Rupununi. “We know of many restaurants for which this model could be very effective, and we are willing to take the lead in testing it out. We hope this will be of benefit to other businesses as well as to the overall sustainability of our food system.”

LeanPath food waste tracking technology has proven to save up to 2-6% of food purchasing costs for high-volume food service providers (universities, hospitals, casinos, etc.), but it has not yet been widely implemented in restaurant kitchens. This pilot project at Rupununi is an opportunity for LeanPath to conduct research on how to best implement the latest tracking technology in the restaurant setting and to analyze the level of impact that can be achieved.

“The LeanPath Tracker collects strategic information that owners, managers, chefs and employees can act on to reduce food waste and positively impact the triple bottom line: economic prosperity, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship,” said Dave Britton, Director of Operations at LeanPath.

The Gleaning Initiative, a project of Healthy Acadia in partnership with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, coordinates efforts to prevent food waste and increase access to healthy food for community members experiencing low-income or food insecurity across Hancock County. The Initiative engages food producers, retailers and volunteers to collect food that would otherwise go to waste and distribute it to food pantries and community meal sites in the region. This particular project is an attempt to coordinate food waste reduction efforts and improve our food systems, while providing Rupununi with a technologically based cost-saving business solution that will have a social responsibility project of food redistribution tacked onto it in innovative ways.

“We are thrilled to be working with Rupununi and LeanPath on this pilot, and we applaud them for being leaders in food waste prevention,” stated Hannah Semler, Gleaning Coordinator at Healthy Acadia. “It is critical to see food waste in the broader context of our food systems, recognizing that food waste of any kind is a tragedy when many of our neighbors are struggling with hunger.”

With the pilot project underway at Rupununi, Lead Chef Jimmy Velas is embracing the task of ensuring that he and his employees “STOP, and Weigh the Waste”. 

Rupununi Lead Chef Jimmy Velas, Rupununi kitchen employees, and Healthy Acadia’s Hannah Semler at Rupununi Food Waste Prevention Launch, September 23, 2013.
Any time there is food waste, such as expired items that were not used in time, trim waste from cutting vegetables, or overcooked menu items, employees are now weighing the food that is unable to be used. The project is designed to get comprehensive waste data with the LeanPath Tracker to make informed decisions on food waste prevention plans for next season. 

“It will be interesting to learn where our waste is coming from and what patterns emerge. Are we ordering too much of something? Are we overcooking certain things? Ringing in significant numbers of wrong orders? Do we need to adjust how much we order based on expiration dates? Answers to these questions should really be able to help us improve our processes next year to reduce waste,” said Jimmy Velas, Rupununi’s Lead Chef.

Velas will coordinate the collection of data and upload it to the LeanPath analytics dashboard on a weekly basis. LeanPath will review the data, and together with Healthy Acadia they will create a final evaluation and debrief that will serve as guidance to the restaurant for their next steps. Boland, Velas, and the Rupununi crew will be able to use the information to determine what actions make the most sense for their businesses as they continue their efforts to reduce food waste and improve the triple bottom line of economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

For more information on this food waste reduction project or other efforts of the Gleaning Initiative, contact Healthy Acadia’s Gleaning Coordinator, Hannah Semler, hannah@healthyacadia.org; at (207) 677-7171 or to reach Leanpath contact Janet Haugan, jhaugan@leanpath.com; (503) 928-9085

Great Reading in the Modern Farmer! 
"Food Waste: The Next Food Revolution" (click here)

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