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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sodexo addresses waste issues with online press conference

Published: October 23, 2014
Section: News

Sodexo held an online press conference called “Sodexo Talks Food Waste Reduction” on Thursday, Oct. 23 to discuss food waste and sustainability in its dining services. The press conference was hosted by Laura Antal, instructional designer for Sodexo, and Christy Cook, Sodexo’s senior manager for sustainability field support. They spoke about the company’s initiatives to reduce food waste and save energy. The online press conference was held one day before Food Day, a celebration designed to promote real food and improved food policies.

Sustainability coordinators of a few of the universities served by Sodexo attended the press conference. One of the topics discussed during the press conference was Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow toolkit, which includes their waste and energy toolkits. These initiatives aim to reduce waste and energy consumption in their campus dining facilities.

Cook explained that, while important, equipment updates and changes do not do enough in terms of waste reduction.

“If we just have equipment [changes], then we are not changing the culture,” said Cook.

Equally important, in her view, is training employees in waste reduction and making them conscious of the impact of food waste on the environment. Simply using digesters to convert food waste into energy and establishing composting programs is not enough, Cook said. According to Cook, people tend to waste more when they know that the waste is being composted or used to make energy.

“It might surprise many to learn that wasting food is about much more than even that,” said Sodexo’s Senior Manager of Public Relations Gregory Yost in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. “Food waste impacts energy. It impacts water resources as well as climate change.”

The press conference discussed ways Sodexo will aim to conserve energy and reduce their contributions to food waste.

Acknowledging Sodexo’s potential contributions to food waste, Yost wrote, “As we approach Food Day (Oct. 24), it’s a great time to think about the implications of food waste.”

“We waste 40 percent of the food that we grow and raise in the U.S., even as 49 million people here are at risk of hunger,” said Yost. “Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that 4 to 10 percent of all food purchased is tossed out before it even reaches a plate.”

Among Sodexo’s sustainability initiatives is its Sustainable Seafood Policy. According to their policies, they are no longer serving any seafood species identified as being at risk. Additionally, they have committed to the promotion of specific aquaculture standards and the use of less well-known fish species. Sodexo’s water conservation project, according to the company’s website, has saved 2.6 million gallons of water annually.

Sodexo’s website states that of all their total waste production, “95 percent consists of organic waste and packaging materials.” In 2010, the company launched their “Stop Wasting Food” campaign, with objectives including reducing by pre-consumer food waste by 20 percent. The campaign is aimed at college students and administrators. This initiative is one of the many programs and policies implemented by Sodexo to curb energy and food waste.

Recently, Sodexo’s dining services have been receiving criticism from Brandeis students. Students held a protest in early October and have created a satirical “Sodexo Fan Page” on Facebook. Sodexo has implemented some changes in response to student’s dissatisfaction, such as providing reusable to go containers that will cut down on waste.