Oregon State University receives food waste reduction grant

The $27,000 grant will be used to implement a LeanPath computer system in its dining halls.

Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, has received a grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Materials Management program to reduce food waste in its dining halls, a report by the Corvallis Gazette-Times says. The $27,000 grant will be used to implement a computer system by LeanPath, Beaverton, Oregon, in the dining halls.

LeathPath, according to its website, uses smart technology to monitor and help reduce food waste. Chris Anderson, a spokesperson with University House and Dining Services, says in the report the university wants to get a sense of where food waste is being generated and how it can be prevented.

The LeanPath system comes with a scale and a camera. Employees will use the scale to weight the postproduction food they plan to discard. While weighing, employees will select their food station and choose a category for the food, such as grains, fruit or meat. The report says the program will record the weight of the food and take a picture. Once weighed and photographed, employees will discard the food waste with the university’s current methods, including compost, Linn Benton Food Share or to the landfill.

The data gathered from the LeathPath system will be stored on a web platform where managers can access data and consider where they might reduce purchases or alter methods, the report says. Solutions the university says in the report it can do include ordering less food, restricting portion sizes or ordering different meals.

Anderson says in the report that two of the university’s three dining halls have dish carousels where students discard plates and employees sort leftovers for composting. While it may be more difficult to categorize, Anderson says the LeanPath system can be installed at the carousel for employees to weigh the leftovers.

Oregon State plans on implementing the LeathPath system in July, the report says. The grant will give one-year access to the program. The university can extend the contract after the one-year mark.

According to the report, the university’s dining halls produce 200,000 to 250,000 pounds of food waste per year. Anderson says in the report he hopes for a 10 percent reduction in food waste through the program.

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