Emerging Trends Concentration Project

Do Food Service Workers at Aramark Accounts
Follow Policies to Reduce Food Waste?

Kate Callahan, Seema Shah, Mary Solheid
Aramark Dietetic Interns
May 2016

Abstract

The emerging trend of minimizing food waste in a hospital setting is
relevant to the dietetic field since it is common for a food service manager to
be a registered dietitian. Additionally, dietitians are involved in patient food
distribution and can affect food waste in that capacity. Since food waste
affects Aramark financially and affects the local and global economies and
environments of Aramark contracted facilities, it is imperative that as
Aramark representatives we ensure policies and procedures related to
elimination of food waste are adhered to. We conducted an observational
study to determine the compliancy to Aramark food waste policies of
employees of Aramark contracted accounts.
Food waste practices were observed at five separate Aramark
contracted hospitals for 65 separate recorded observations. We observed
compliancy to stated Aramark food waste policies of employees in the areas
of receiving, preparation, storing, and serving. After each observation the
results were entered into the Google Forms appropriate for each type of
observation.
Overall, we determined that foodservice worker compliancy rate is high but there
are areas that could be improved. The study exposed the largest non-compliances with
foodservice workers who are not taking the dry storage temperature, not
checking/documenting food temperatures during service and not discarding food in
composting bins over trashcans.
1

2

Introduction
On September 16, 2015 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) along
with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called for an unprecedented
nationwide goal of a 50-percent reduction of food waste in the United States by 2030.1
The amount of wasted food in the US has been reported as high as $165.6 billion
annually.2 Both of these factors have contributed to the growing need for research on
how to minimize food waste in a commercial setting such as in a food and nutrition
department within a hospital. In a hospital setting, food service managers, food service
staff, and dietitians contribute to the choices that are made in health care foodservice
operations. These choices are a result of the food waste beliefs, behaviors, and
attitudes of these decision makers.3 Currently there is limited research completed on
food waste beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes of food and nutrition workers in the US. As a
result, an observational study on food service workers in hospital food and nutrition
departments in the US will be conducted to increase knowledge about food waste
patterns so that we can determine how dietetic professionals are able to contribute to
the goal set by the USDA and the EPA to reduce food waste.
Food waste can be described as the lack of consumption of or loss at any time of
food during the processing, purchase or intake of it. 4 32% of food that was prepared for
consumption was lost in 2009 and 61 million tons of food is wasted annually in the US. 4
Food waste is an enormous problem in today’s society contributing to severe
environmental consequences. The Swedish University of Agricultural Science
investigated the amount of food waste and then impact on carbon footprint (CF) profiles
in Swedish supermarkets.5 The study defines wastage CF as the product CF from

3

delivery to the retailer times the amount of the product wasted at the store – including
emissions due to production and transportation. The food waste was examined for
products in the meat, deli, cheese, dairy and fruit and vegetable departments of six
Swedish supermarkets.5 The study revealed 1570 tons of fresh food (excluding bread)
was wasted in the six supermarkets over a three-year period. 5 The fruit & vegetable
department contributed 85% of the wasted mass and 46% of the total wastage CF.5 The
meat department contributed 3.5% of the wasted mass, while it accounted for 29% of
the total wastage CF.5 The findings of The Swedish University of Agricultural Science
illustrate the importance of managing food waste – not only for site financial reasons,
but also minimizing the negative impact in the environment.
Awareness of food waste and related reduction is beginning to become a popular
area of focus for those looking to impact climate change and the amount of trash that
ends up in landfills each year. Food waste that ends up in landfills often emits methane
gas that is a large contributor to global warming. Furthermore, food waste can see new
life as compost and can therefore be a way to nourish growing plants instead of
festering in landfills. In industrialized nations, food waste is more the result of consumer
food practices and as a product of the retail environment while in non-industrialized
nations, food waste mostly happens during the procurement, harvesting and
management of food resources.4 Food waste can be curtailed in the most efficient ways
through reducing overproducing, decreasing food surplus, utilizing best practices, and
educating workers on these best practices as well.4 85% of the around 6600 tons of
waste that is produced each day by hospitals is not dangerous or risky and is made up
of recyclables items like plastic and compostable waste such as food. 6 Furthermore, it

4

was found that almost all of the waste produced by restaurants can be reused as
compost or be reprocessed through recycling.7 Companies, organizations and food
service locations are beginning to realize that food waste is something that can be
prevented through the adequate knowledge and training of staff, consumer education,
along with policy development and enforcement of those policies. Thus, company
policies and procedures and the adherence to these policies by workers are a great
starting point for reducing food waste in the retail foodservice setting.
A study of Canadian healthcare food service workers’ beliefs, behaviors, and
attitudes about environmentally friendly food practices revealed a gap between beliefs
and behaviors and beliefs and attitudes.3 The survey utilized in this study revealed that
most workers answered questions indicating they believed sustainability and
environmentally friendly food practices are important and should be prioritized to enact
but not as many responded that they actually implemented actions to achieve these
goals.3 Part of this gap between belief and behavior was attributed to some respondents
answering the questions in the way they thought were socially acceptable and not in
their actual belief. The authors of this study believed that some respondents were not
able to match their belief scores to their behavior scores due to lack of knowledge
regarding environmental practices or assuming they could not financially afford to
implement these practices.3 Moreover, while the respondents recorded high beliefs to
enact these goals they did not record as high in their attitudes to achieve the goals.3
Education regarding the effect of food waste on the environment and the ease of
implementing measures to decrease food waste would close the gaps between beliefs
and behaviors as well as beliefs and attitudes.

5

Aramark utilizes production sheets and waste logs to track food waste produced
when preparing foods for meal service. The leftover food and waste column in the
production sheets and food waste weight column in the food waste logs are used by
food service workers for accurate forecasting and menu planning and is also an aid
utilized by food service managers in tracking and managing food loss and
overproduction in order to cut costs.8 The leftover column is for foods that will be repurposed and re-used for later meals. Ultimately items from the production sheets and
food waste logs are entered into the food waste management tracking website. 8
Aramark has a strong commitment to corporate responsibility and environmental
stewardship and offers a variety of programs such as tray-less dining programs,
composting programs, recycling and re-purposing of food waste partnerships. 9 They
support the use of the food recovery hierarchy which starts with placing most efforts on
reducing the origins of food waste, then to feeding the hungry, feeding animals,
industrial uses, composting, and then placement in a landfill. 9 Utilizing Aramark’s food
management process across many sites has led to dramatic reductions in food costs,
food waste and an increase in food quality and food safety.10 Aramark is dedicated to
the continual improvement and streamlining of food service operations that can aid in
the unnecessary wastage of food.

The financial and environmental implications of food waste exemplify the
importance for minimizing food waste produced in various sites -- such as retail or
hospital settings. Aramark’s mission is to provide “experiences that enrich and nourish
lives”.11 Therefore, Aramark has created a policy to help decrease the amount of food

6

waste for their contracted sites. By creating a food waste policy, Aramark is aiming to
lower food waste costs. Showing potential contracted sites that Aramark has a concise
method to keep food cost down is very beneficial. Simultaneously, the food waste policy
aids in decreasing the negative impact on the environment. Protecting the environment
has become an emerging trend within the past couple years. Consequently, Aramark
can demonstrate to potential contracted sites that they care about the future of the
environment and the communities they serve. However, as previously mentioned, there
can be a disconnect between food waste beliefs and the actual behaviors of the
foodservice employees. In order for Aramark’s policy to be effective, the food service
worker’s need to be following through with tracking the food waste daily. This report will
illustrate the compliance between food service workers at various locations and
Aramark’s food waste policy and guidelines.

Methodology
Subjects
A convenience sample of food service workers involved in receiving, preparing,
and serving food items were observationally evaluated at 5 hospitals. The geographic
locations of the hospitals represented the East Coast, Midwest, and the West Coast.
The observations occurred during the time period of January 2016 – March 2016. Any
food service employee with the responsibility of receiving and storing goods and
preparing or serving food for either café or patient line were included in the
observational evaluations. All food service workers were in good standing in their

7

employment status. No food service workers were excluded. No additional work time
was needed for the food service workers that were being observed. With the number of
hospitals represented in this study, a wide range of age, race, length of time in position,
and socioeconomic status of food service workers was represented. Both genders were
represented equally. With the range in numerical size of hospital populations, the
number of eligible food service workers varied by location. Food service workers and
supervisors were not given any information about why they were being observed or how
the collected data was going to be used. Food and Nutrition managers were given a
description of the study and the purpose of the data collection.
Study Design
This was a study that took place over 3 months to ensure that a wide range of
observations of food service employee practices related to food waste were broadly
represented. Observations took place in the hospital food service kitchens and in the
cafes. Food service employee practices involved in receiving and storage of dry and
cold foods were observed for adherence to Aramark stated policies and procedures that
are targeted to promote the reduction of food waste. Food service employee practices
involved in the production and service of food either for the patient line or in the café
area were observed for practices that reduced food waste as well as increased food
waste composting when appropriate.
Three dietetic interns collected data for four areas of observation of food service
employee work practices: Receiving, Storage, Preparation, Serving. Observations took
place at various times throughout the day with no particular time given preference.

8

Inventory delivery times, food preparation and service times were taken into
consideration to produce maximum number of observations. A convenience sample
size of 65 was reached and was deemed appropriate to supply a reliable representation
of food service worker practices. Observations took place in dry and cold storage areas,
preparation areas of kitchens, and service areas in the kitchen and in the café.
Observation data was collected using the data collection tool in which the observer
recorded all data and later input into the GOOGLE Form appropriate for each area of
observation. The data collection tool was adapted from the pre-published draft of the
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food Waste Survey, which was provided by one of
the Aramark Dietetic Internship Directors to the team of dietetic interns conducting this
study. Separate GOOGLE Forms were utilized for each of the four observed areas.
Available responses on the data collection tool were “Yes”, “No”, “N/A.” Food service
employees were not asked questions about their work practices nor were they given
comments about their performance. The data collection tool was not shared with the
food service worker or supervisor. The data was converted to a pie chart and analyzed
for compliance to stated Aramark policies and procedures in each of the four areas for
overall results and per site as well.
Resources and Permissions
No outside resources or funding were required for the completion of this
observational evaluation. Food service employees were not paid additional hourly or
salary wages to be observed. Each of the dietetic interns had the appropriate personnel
sign and date an approved Institutional Review Board form and submitted the form to
Aramark Dietetic Internship Program prior to the start of the observational evaluation.

9

Results
A total of 65 observations comprised the study population. Since the policies
varied between foodservice workers’ jobs, the observations were split into four groups –
receiving, storing, preparation and serving. In order to examine compliance of
foodservice workers’ with Aramark’s policies, this study explored overall compliance and
site-specific compliance for comparison.
Overall, seven foodservice workers were observed for compliance with receiving;
fifteen foodservice workers were observed for compliance with storage; twenty-two
foodservice workers were observed for compliance with preparation; and twenty-one
foodservice workers were observed for compliance with serving.
In sum, the foodservice workers receiving products from various vendors were
compliant. When presented with refrigerated items, all of the foodservice workers
(85.7%) checked at least two refrigerated items (14.3% not applicable). When
presented with frozen food, the majority of foodservice workers (71.4%) checked the
temperatures of frozen foods – 14.3% did not check temperatures and 14.3% not
applicable. All the foodservice workers (100%) inspected products upon delivery for
quality and accuracy. The biggest discrepancy with the receiving foodservice workers
was not discarding food that had been damaged – 57.1% of employees did not discard
food (only 42.9% of employees discarded the damaged food). Instead of discarding the
damaged food, the foodservice workers handed out the “free food” to the other
foodservice workers. However, when the damaged and discarded food was being
thrown away, all of the foodservice workers (42.9%) discarded the food in a food waste-

10

composting bucket – 57.1% not applicable.
Figure 1. Receiving observational survey result pie charts

Overall, the foodservice workers storing the food

were compliant.

When necessary all of the foodservice workers (46.7%) recorded the freezer
temperatures – 53.3% not applicable. The majority of foodservice workers (46.7%)
recorded the temperature of the refrigerators in the temperature log – 13.3% did not and
40% no applicable. All of the foodservice workers (100%) kept the refrigerators and
freezers from being overstocked. The majority of foodservice workers (66.7%)
discarded in the composting buckets – 33.3% of foodservice workers threw away food
in the trash instead. All of the foodservice workers (60%) did not record the last required
dry storage temperature in the log – 40% not applicable. The majority of foodservice
workers (93.3%) disposed of dented and expired products – 6.7% of foodservice
workers did not. All of the foodservice workers (100%) followed FIFO (first in, first out)
technique and maintained an organized storage area.

11

Figure 2. Storing survey results pie charts

Overall, the foodservice workers preparing the food were compliant. The majority
of the employees (77.3%) collected food waste for composting – 22.7% did not. All of
the foodservice workers (100%) documented food waste on the food waste log during
preparation. The majority of food service workers (95.5%) trimmed fruits, vegetables
and meats to maximize edible portions – 4.5% did not. All foodservice workers (100%)
followed written recipes, utilized production sheets, documented servings produced and
labeled leftovers. The biggest non-compliance was that foodservice workers (40.9%)
discarded food into the trash and not the composting buckets – 54.5% of foodservice
workers discarded food into the composting buckets.
Figure 3. Preparation survey results form

12

Overall, the employees
the
workers
utensils
of
serving

food were compliant. All the
(100%) serving the food used

serving
foodservice
suggested serving

listed in the recipe. The
foodservice workers (85.7%)
sizes as listed in the recipe – 9.5%

majority
used appropriate
did not and 4.8% not

applicable. The majority of foodservice workers (61.9%) documented food supply for
each meal including leftovers – 38.1% of foodservice workers did not. Unfortunately
only 52.4% of employees checked and documented temperatures during service –
47.6% of employees did not. The biggest non-compliance was that foodservice workers
(71.4%) discarded food into the trash and not the composting buckets during service –
only 28.6% foodservice employees discarded food in the composting buckets.
Figure 4. Serving observational survey results pie charts

13

After looking at the overall results, the study exposed the largest noncompliances with foodservice workers who are not taking the dry storage temperature,
not checking/documenting food temperatures during service and not discarding food in
composting bins over trashcans.
Between the Aramark interns, five different sites were observed in order to
compare foodservice compliance through out different Aramark accounts. When
observing the foodservice workers’ compliance with Aramark’s policies the study refers
to the five sites as site A, site B, site C, site D and site E.
While observing foodservice workers in receiving the food from vendors, there
were differences in compliance between the various sites. At site A, the two foodservice
workers were 100% complaint (see pie charts for detail). At site B, the one foodservice
worker was 100% compliant (see pie charts for detail). At site C, one of the two
foodservice workers was not compliant with labeling all items with the receipt date (see
pie charts for detail). At site D, the foodservice worker was not compliant with labeling
all items with the receipt date. At site E, the foodservice worker was not compliant with
checking the temperature of frozen foods.

14

While observing foodservice workers in storing food, there were differences in
compliance between the different sites. At site A (see pie charts for detail), the three
foodservice workers were not compliant with recording the dry storage temperature and
one foodservice worker did not dispose of dented products. At site B (see pie charts for
detail), all four of the foodservice workers did not record the dry storage temperature
and one of the foodservice workers did not discard food into the composting bins. At site
C (see pie charts for detail), the three foodservice workers were compliant with all
policies. At site D (see pie charts for detail), one of the three foodservice workers
observed threw food away in the trash and not the composting bins. At site E (see pie
charts for detail), the two foodservice workers did not record the dry storage
temperature log or the refrigerator temperature log.
While observing the foodservice workers prepare the food, there were variances
in compliance between the different sites. At site A (see pie charts for detail), all four
foodservice workers were compliant with Aramark policies. At site B (see pie charts for
detail), one of the five foodservice workers did not cup all fruits, vegetables and meat to
maximize edible portions. At site C (see pie charts for detail), three of the four
foodservice workers did not discard trash in the composting buckets or collect food
waste for composting. At site D (see pie charts for detail), one of the four foodservice
workers discarded food into the trash and not the composting bins and two of the four
foodservice workers did not collect food waste for composting. At site E (see pie charts
for detail), the five foodservice workers observed were compliant.
While observing the foodservice workers serving the food, there were differences
in compliance from site to site. At site A (see pie charts for detail), one of the four

15

foodservice workers did not check food temperatures during service and all of the four
foodservice workers discarded food into the trash and no the composting bins. At site B
(see pie charts for detail), there were several non-compliances; two of the nine
foodservice workers serving the food did not use appropriate serving sizes, seven
foodservice workers discarded food into the trash can and not the composting bin, eight
of the nine foodservice workers did not document food supply for each meal and none
of the foodservice workers checked food temperatures during service. At site C (see pie
charts for detail), two of the three foodservice workers did not check temperatures
during service and one of the foodservice workers did not discard trash in the
composting bins. At site D (see pie charts for detail), all three foodservice workers threw
away food in the trashcan. At site E (see pie charts for detail), the two foodservice
workers were compliant.
Discussion
This observational study was conducted in order to determine whether or not
food service workers working in Aramark managed facilities were compliant to Aramark
food waste policies in the areas of receiving, preparation, serving and storage. The goal
was to observe at least 50 food service workers at three different Aramark food service
locations. This goal was met and a total of 65 food service workers were observed at 5
different site on the East coast, the Midwest and on the West Coast.
Despite individual deviations from policy at each site that were detailed in the
results section, overall the food service workers were compliant to the Aramark food
waste policies in the areas of storage, preparation, serving and receiving. These results
were expected as Aramark manages the sites where the interns were doing their

16

observations and internship rotations and the leadership there is effective. Furthermore,
Aramark policies are straight-forward, easy to follow and make sense, thus it does not
seem difficult for them to be enforced or to be followed properly. Even so, non
compliance was seen at individual sites that included foodservice workers not taking the
dry storage temperature, not checking/documenting food temperatures during service
and discarding food in composting bins over trashcans. This shows that not every food
service worker can be watched at every single point of every single day and that
deviations from policy can and will happen either frequently or from time to time.
Reasons for this could include employees being new to the job and still learning how
things work, employees not being properly trained or educated on Aramark policies or
not even being exposed to the policies, and employees learning the policies but not
being compliant or not having the policies enforced properly.
Ways to improve these areas could include making the sure management is
properly knowledgeable or Aramark food waste policies and of why they are important.
If leadership does not believe that enforcing these policies or educating staff about them
is valuable then the food service workers will not care about learning about or carrying
them out as well. Secondly, making sure that the management team is implementing
these policies and enforcing also is crucial. Accountability is key to having compliance in
regards to food waste policies. If food service workers knew that they were being held
accountable, perhaps through unknown weekly or monthly observations or audits, then
perhaps adherence to the polices would be higher. Lastly, goal setting and tracking of
food waste is another way to improve compliance to these policies. Sometimes it is hard
to make sense of abstract concepts, policies and procedures that are tangible in real

17

life. Showing monthly progress of how much food was composted and comparing that
over time could give a more concrete idea of the results of their compliance to the
policies and what the effects were. Even instituting a rewards program for improvement
or something of that nature could be added incentive for compliance. Thus, better
compliance involves management being educated and motivated to enforce the
policies, the food service workers being properly trained and educated on them as well,
and a constant atmosphere of accountability for adherence to these policies.
There are some ways that this study could have been improved. Having the
study done at only one site could have shown the compliance more uniformly at one
location and would not have required meshing together heterogeneous site data
together. Observing management enforcement of the policies or their own training and
compliance to the policies could have been done as well. Furthermore, performing a
training for the employees on Aramark policies through education or a presentation
could have also been done. Finally, interviewing the individual workers on their opinions
of food waste policies and whether or not they were compliant to them could have given
insight on some reasons workers were non compliant.
Areas for further research and expansion of reducing food waste are always a
good idea as it is becoming a recognized way to reduce costs as well as the impact to
the environment. Patient food waste was not looked at in this study as not every site
composted patient food waste or cafeteria customer food waste either. However, it is
possible to do this, so it would be interesting to see the compliance to these policies if
such programs were implemented. Educating nurses on assisting patients with menu
selections, getting patient food preferences and assisting with feedings could greatly

18

help with possibly curtailing food waste and this is another study that could be done.
Educating cafeteria consumers on good food practices both when eating out and at
home could be done and differences in waste could be studied to see its effects. Lastly,
focusing on production food waste specifically and ways to not over produce meals
would be another interesting study to do.
Conclusion
This study was important because it assessed whether or not food service
workers were compliant to Aramark food waste policies at five different Aramark
managed hospital food service locations across the United States. On the whole, the
food service workers were compliant when receiving, storing, serving and preparing
food items. Aramark is dedicated to moving towards the goal of reducing food waste
across all of its locations across the nation. Doing this will require synchronized efforts
from both management, food service workers and hopefully customers as well.
Hopefully, food waste reduction will be a trend that will only gain importance with time.
In the mean time, Aramark will prove to be a leader in this area and can show others
how to implement successful programs.

19

20

Appendix

21

22

References
1.
Food Retailers, Agriculture Industry, and Charitable Organizations Support
First National Goal to Reduce Food Waste by 50 Percent by 2030. United States
Department of Agriculture Web site.
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?
contentid=2015/09/0258.xml&navid=NEWS_RELEASE&navtype=RT&parentnav=LA
TEST_RELEASES&edeployment_action=retrievecontent. Published 9/17/2015.
Accessed 11/07/15.
2.
Betz A, Buchli J, Göbel C, Müller C. Food waste in the Swiss food service
industry - Magnitude and potential for reduction. Waste Manag. 2015;35:218-26.
3. Wilson ED, Garcia AC. Environmentally friendly health care food services: a survey
of beliefs, behaviours, and attitudes. Can J Diet Pract Res. 2011;72(3):117-22.
4. Girotto F, Alibardi L, Cossu R. Food waste generation and industrial uses: A review.
Waste Manag. 2015;45:32-41.
5. Eriksson, Mattias, Ingrid Strid, and Per-Anders Hansson. "Carbon Footprint of Food
Waste Management Options in the Waste Hierarchy – a Swedish Case Study."
Journal of Cleaner Production 93 (2015): 115-25. Web
6. Mcdermott-levy R, Fazzini C. Identifying the key personnel in a nurse-initiated
hospital waste reduction program. Nurs Adm Q. 2010;34(4):306-10.
7. Pirani SI, Arafat HA. Solid waste management in the hospitality industry: a review. J
Environ Manage. 2014;146:320-36.
8. Waste Column vs. Waste Log. Aramark Food Management Group Web site.
https://www.aramark.net/uploads/files/Education/K12/Home/News/Leftovers_And_Waste_Process_Defined.pdf. Published March 12,
2013. Accessed 10/31/15.
9. Waste Management Mastering the Basic Guide. Aramark Food waste management
document.
https://www.aramark.net/uploads/files/Corporate/Corporate_Social_Responsibility/E

23

nvironmental_Stewardship/101%20Level%20-%20Waste%20Management
%20Guide%20-%20FINAL%2004092013.pdf. Published July 2013. Accessed
11/01/15.
10. ARAMARK Food Management Process: Driving Productivity and Efficiency. Aramark
Food waste management document.
https://www.aramark.net/uploads/files/Education/K-12/Sales_and_GForce/ARAMARK%20Food%20Mgmt%20Process.pdf. Published December 2012.
Accessed 11/01/15.
11. ARAMARK Mission Value and Focus. Aramark Corporation document.
https://www.aramark.net/uploads/files/FacilityServices/Business_Industry_Common/
Business_Industry_Content/Corporate_and_Commercial/Presentation1.pdf.
Accessed 12/01/15.

24