Wasting Away or Saving the Day? Food Management– our Biggest Challenge in Sustainable Events?
1st March 2016
Why should events professionals care about food waste and management? What can we do to make our audiences aware of this issue, and how can we make it fun?
Food waste is a global problem which affects us all; and there are few issues within events which are as universally wasteful as the topic of leftover food. This is a great opportunity for all of us events managers to ensure that we are sustainably sourcing and promoting food and beverage to our stakeholders. This will not only save us money, but will also have a great impact on the environment, and will enhance the experience of our event attendees.
1/3 of all edible food produced for human consumption is wasted each year
…Generating up to 3.3 billion tons of green house gases.
(Feed Back, 2016)
So how can we help reduce this? And more importantly how can we make it fun?
There are many ways for events managers to reduce food waste and many of these are simple if you’re serious about sustainable events:
Work with your suppliers
Listen to your chefs – they know what’s in season & what’s fresh, and this is likely to save you money.
Stipulate that only local & seasonal produce (including sustainable fish) must be used and give a list of suppliers to your caterers.
Ask caterers to provide fewer options and more portion sizes.
Don’t rush to fill buffets if they are not full to the brim
Track your leftovers and reduce stock orders accordingly in the future
Talk to your Audience
Plan in advance (we can do that one! Surely!) – ask attendees whether they will buy food prior to your event. Planning menus early will also make ordering local produce more affordable.
Communicate your sustainable efforts – This is something to SHOUT ABOUT!
Make it Fun!
Create an event around food waste or incorporate it in to an existing event
Show consumers how they can reduce food waste by using leftovers, buying misshapen produce or reducing their food portions – Ugly food should be celebrated! This will also save money.
Getting your Priorities Right
How do we know where to start? Food waste management can seem like hard work, but really it’s down to being motivated to do something good! And how do we do these good things….? Well… it’s simpler than you think!
Adapted from Meeting Change (2015)
The first and most important step we must take is to reduce the supply chain food loss (here come the ugly vegetables again!); we can work with farmers to take the stock that the supermarkets just won’t.
The reduction in food waste comes from some of the initiatives mentioned above such as reducing portion sizes and using leftovers; perhaps on day 3 of your event serve soup – an easy way to use up excess food.
Donating and re-purposing are the next steps to include donations to homeless shelters, (be careful with legislation) and as animal feed, and serving uneaten food at special events banquets.
Let’s start giving value back to our food!
History Makers, Money Savers, Delicious Flavours & Celebrators!
So does it actually work? Here are some events which are making history through saving money and creating scrumptious meals all the while implementing sustainable food waste management strategies.
Shambala Festival – Food Facts!
Shambala Festival (2016) is a vibrant, innovative and award winning green festival based in Northamptonshire hosting a wide variety of world class entertainment. So what are they doing so well?
Fair Trade Tea & Coffee
Free Range Meat and Eggs (Minimum Standard)
Reusable Cup Schemes
Excess food collected by Eighth Plate for re-use
All simple changes that you too can make and SHOUT TO THE WORLD…. Hello Green Award!
Feeding the 5000 – A Flagship Campaign
Feedback is an environmental organisation campaigning to end food waste, getting governments, businesses, a whole host of organisations and the general public to join in the fight!
Feeding the 5000 is Feedback’s flagship campaign and event which entails a delicious communal feast made entirely from food which would have otherwise been destined for landfill… incredibly fun and at the same time spreading a powerful message!
Feed Back (2016)
Green with envy? It’s your turn to make a difference! …So I urge you to celebrate the ugly, by simply creating beautiful food from our leftovers… come on we’re events managers! We can do anything! But what will you do in the battle against food waste?
Interested in finding out more….? Visit the below:
Event Manager Blog (2014) How to be a Food-Waste Fighting Event Superhero. Available at: http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/event-food-waste-tips (Accessed 05 February 2016
Feed Back (2016) Feeding the 5000. Available at: http://feedbackglobal.org/campaigns/feeding-the-5000/ (Accessed 26 February 2016).
Meeting Change (2015) Food Waste Solutions for Events. Available at: https://meetingchange.wordpress.com/blog/ (Accessed 05 February 2015).
Shambala Festival (2016) Available at: http://www.shambalafestival.org/essential-info/ (Accessed 25 February 2016).
Eighth Plate – Turning excess food in to new opportunities
Gov.UK – The legal bit! – How food businesses must dispose of food and former food stuffs
Green City Events – Tips on Eco Event Management
Meeting Change – Reducing food waste at events
MSC Sustainable Fish List – Very handy!
Powerful Thinking Report – All things sustainable for festivals
Wrap – UK Events Road Map: A 2020 Vision