Sustainability can apply to all corners of campus, but front and center of most university efforts is dining services. Brad Krakow sheds some light on how embracing sustainability is also a great business decision.

Sustainability means…?

Philosophically speaking, sustainability is how we should behave if we wish to leave the planet in as good—or better—shape than when we found it. It is, in essence, the opposite of willing or unknowing destruction.

Supporting a "Lean" Business Model

To be "lean" simply means not to waste—that is, consuming fewer limited resources to achieve the same end. In food service, when you throw out less food, there is less waste, less production, less purchasing, less handling, and ultimately, less risk. On your campus, forecasting production is key to a sustainable operation. This is where Foodservice Suite® (FSS) comes into play. FSS provides the framework to track all aspects of production and what is actually consumed. This data can be used for planning future production, purchasing, and preparation. In other words, it keeps you lean.

Technology's Role in Sustainability

In food service, technology can have an enormous impact on your sustainability efforts. Technology can influence your efforts around the vastly increased complexity and variety of menu offerings we've seen over the past decade, to the move from the "product/hold/serve" model to the "What would you like?" models of individual preparation. This is all doable, with the bonus that the "sustainable" model can be directly tied to cost savings.

For example:

  • Moving to a tray-less service model in an all-you-can-eat operation is commonly known to save 15% on food costs.
  • In retail environments, getting the forecast, purchasing, preparation, production, and services models in place, validated, and implemented has similarly proven to save from 3% to 10% in raw food cost.

Some sites use this savings to offset other increasing costs, while others plow it back into more expensive local or organic products. Also, there is the important matter of personal sustainability—as in less stress and more joy at work—which can be a direct outcome of a move toward supported business environment. Cooks stress that if they don't know if the ingredients have arrived, whether they will have enough, or if someone "took their prep"—all symptoms of poor planning which technology can help overcome.

Remember: If you are not managing, your employees are—and they do not have budgetary responsibility.