SESMA – Special Event Sites Marketing Alliances
February 2019
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February 18, 2019sesmadminNews0

Following up on our Spotlight on Sustainable Events, Suzanne Morrell, Founder of STM enterprises @CreatingEvents and the DC Event Food Waste Coalition, recently launched in response to your request to find a toolkit to end food waste at your events. will be your resource for the latest tips, updates on legislation, and information you need to know to cut food waste in half by 2030 and create sustainable events . We also need your help. If you would like to be a part of the sustainable event evolution, please sign up on the website to be a part of the conversation.

Check out @SaveDCFood for the latest tweets on Event Food Waste.

To get started on taking the first steps to reducing your food waste…read on…

You know what they say…a penny saved is a penny earned. Champions 12.3 released a deep dive study showing that restaurants save $7 for every $1 invested in reducing food waste. Over three years, organizations have found a 600% positive return on their investment. What’s not to love about that!

The study in cooperation with WRAP and WRI showed significant cost savings can be made with changes that stem from measurement data. The savings primarily came from buying less food–which reduces purchase costs, increasing revenue from new menu items developed from leftovers or foods previously considered “scraps,” and lower waste management costs.

“Every part of the food industry has a responsibility to reduce food waste,” said Dave Lewis, Group Chief Executive of Tesco and Chair of Champions 12.3. “These findings make it crystal clear that reducing food waste isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart business move.”

So the same reasoning outlined in the restaurant study transfers to the event industry.

It does’t have to be complicated, but you have to start! Let’s go! 

  1. The first step, and least glamorous but most important, is to measure the amount of food being wasted. Measuring food waste determines where it’s coming from. You need to know where to prioritize your efforts. That means separating, weighing, and tallying. What gets measured, gets managed.
  2. Next, engage staff. All the stakeholders in the food supply chain need to be on board–from the revenue manager, sales manager, banquet manager, service staff, planner, client and guest. Each one of these stakeholders may be inspired differently to reduce waste. Having a champion in each stakeholder group who understands and is passionate about the issue is helpful. You need a motivator!
  3. Chefs, this is where you get creative. Re-think inventory and purchasing practices. Envision how you can use an ingredient profile across multiple menu items. We can subtly nudge guests’ behaviors by varying portion size options and removing garnishes. 
  4. At the heart is reducing overproduction while matching the demand. We can use technology to accurately count our F&B guarantees without the planner, kitchen and sales team padding a little extra along the way, just in case. Primarily, this is where our creativity as planners needs to come into play. Try thinking outside the “this is the way we always do it” box. Imagine new set up options, smaller plates and pans, accurate portion size and targeted logistics of your event. How would you design an event buffet without chafing dishes and batch items? How the can you stay on time and still feed all your guests without the dreaded buffet line. I challenge you to find other options to reduce both plate waste and food that doesn’t even make it on a plate.
  5. If you have done your job accurately, you will have nothing remaining at the end of the event. However, knowing how the chain works, overproduction will be likely. We will talk about how to plan ahead to re-purpose excess food later on. The key is to have a plan.

As we see, the dollars and cents add up to a logical business case to invest in reducing food waste. The impact on the world is clear. Changing the way we approach events makes sense. So the heart of the change is changing hearts rather than changing minds. This is the long-term challenge. In doing this however, you want to make informed choices that can spread to our stakeholders without being preachy and staying true to your brand.

A plan to reduce food waste can result in significant financial savings. It can also motivate staff and impress clients. It is both good news for the environment and your bottom line.

SESMA's mission is to develop cooperative marketing programs that bring member special event sites to the attention of meeting and event professionals throughout the DC-metro area who seek unique venues for their functions.
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