This summer, Aramark instituted LeanPath, a program to track their food waste with the goal of cutting it in half by 2030.

For a Lister resident, paying $4,317 to $4,782 for a mandatory meal plan is a standard part of living there. Aramark, the food service provider for Lister, takes in large shipments daily to satisfy the food demand from their 1,800 residents. According to Aramark’s contract, they are required to keep up sustainable food practices while supplying food to the U of A.

“Sustainability is a topmost priority, and it’s a trend nowadays,” said Shilpi Gupta, the Director of Operations for the university’s Dining Services.

Aramark receives baked goods from catering companies like the Italian Bakery, Italian Centre, and Canada Bread. Sysco, Gordon Food Services, and Fresh Forward supply raw foods to Lister five days a week. Fresh, perishable items usually come from farms local to Alberta.

In cases where local farms can’t grow certain products or keep up with demand, Aramark’s suppliers will order food from other provinces or countries.

“If we can get a better price from a little bit farther away, sometimes we’ll do that. We know price is very important to students,” said Lorraine Huntley, the Support Services Coordinator of Hospitality Services.

In terms of waste, Aramark claims to use sustainable packaging, and has separated waste bins throughout Lister Centre.

“Aramark has just constituted what is called LeanPath, which is a program for waste reduction,” Huntley said. “There are all sorts of things that go along with sustainability, not just the processing.”

Since June 19, 2017, Aramark has implemented LeanPath technologies into their operations. According to the LeanPath website, the waste-tracking technology measures, analyzes, and optimizes food waste using scales and cameras.

As stated on Aramark’s website, their goal is to reduce 50 per cent of their food waste by 2030 using LeanPath. They are trying to implement a sustainable method of reducing food waste to improve their efficiency, reduce their environmental impact, and help the community.

One method that Aramark is using to reduce their waste is donating unused products to organizations such as food banks. Other food products are also used as animal feed or compost, and put in the landfill as a last resort. With LeanPath, Aramark is supposed to be able to track 100 per cent of their food waste.

With the introduction of LeanPath this year, the University of Alberta hopes to see overall improvements in Aramark’s food waste and sustainability practices in Lister in the future.

There are already a few other safety and sustainability programs that Aramark is involved in, such as the U of A’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, Green Spaces Certification, FoodSafe certifications, and Marine Stewardship Certification of their seafood.

Image courtesy of Zoe Joyall
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