If you’re a restaurant owner or manage one, then you’ll be well acquainted with the problem of leftover food. No matter how well planned your chefs are or how accurate your production system is, leftover food is something one cannot escape. And do you know what’s worse than seeing all that surplus food in your kitchen? To see it being wasted! Yes, most restaurants simply dump their leftovers in dump trucks lying in the back alleys. Most of these leftovers end up in landfills, causing great harm to the environment.
But if you’re someone who doesn’t like to see good food go wasted, then you’d definitely want to read further. Today, we’re going to be discussing how you can effectively donate leftovers from your restaurant and help feed those who are less fortunate.
We’re sure the city you reside in has homeless shelters around. Homeless shelters accept leftover food from local eateries and restaurants, provided it is safe to consume. You can donate all your leftovers, including complete dishes, desserts, sides, and even unutilized ingredients. However, an important thing to note here is that many charitable organizations are not likely to accept food that has been served to a customer before. There are food safety standards that ensure that the food donated to a charity is safe and unused, prohibiting you from donating anything that’s been previously served to a customer.
Although most food banks and pantries do not accept leftover meals, they’re open to taking ingredients that are boxed, canned, or bagged, aka non-perishables. Some banks also accept fresh vegetables, and some are open to frozen, refrigerated goods. The best advice is to develop a rapport and relationship with your local food banks. Understand that they too have their own policies and processes to follow and are not likely to accept heaps of your leftover food out of the blue without prior intimation. Getting in touch and finding out their exact requirements is the best way to go about this process.
Zoos And Animal Farms
Now, you may ask – “But what about food scraps that aren’t acceptable to charities?” or “What about food that may not be suitable to be eaten by humans?”. In which case, let farms and local zoos help you out. Animals like cows and pigs at your local zoos and farms could benefit from leftover food that may perhaps not be fit for human consumption. When donating to such places, try and keep out milk, cheese, meats, yogurt, and other such items. This is the ideal way to donate food scraps and food waste that do not harm the environment in any way and result in unnecessary wastage of food.
Give Free Meals
Another way to directly donate excess food from your restaurant, without any middleman, is to offer free meals. You’ll be surprised to know that some people can be hesitant to visit food banks and non-profits. You can help such individuals by adding a free-meal feature at your restaurant. A free meal feature is where anyone who asks will get your charity meal – no questions asked. This is a great way to directly help those in need and reduce the operations and effort involved in donating food to organizations and charities.
Often, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you have quite a bit of food prepared, but it has never left your kitchen. In such a scenario, you can cater for your local community events for free such as a small fundraiser, a school event, or even a group community party. Not only does this help people to remember your generosity, but it creates good word-of-mouth for your restaurant too!
Now that you’ve determined where your excess food will be going, it’s time to address the packaging. Packaging donated food properly while adhering to relevant food handling procedures is essential. Ensure all your bags and boxes are labeled on both sides, stating pertinent details such as package weight, description of contents, and expiry date (if any). It’s also crucial to keep the food temperature in mind. Certain temperatures can be breeding grounds for bacteria, so it’s necessary to heat or cool food accordingly before dispatch.
To sum it up, there are multiple ways by which you can donate leftover food from your restaurant. Yes, it does involve a bit more effort but, isn’t it better to feed the hungry rather than watch it all go to waste? You can also pat yourself on the back for the reduced damage to the environment, as otherwise caused by dumping food in landfills. And while donating is always preferable, it’s also advisable to track your inventory systems and prevent ordering too many supplies to ultimately generate lesser food waste.