Reducing Food Waste
Many operators have successfully transitioned menu offerings to accommodate an expanded take-out model, provide customers with curbside service and collaborate with delivery service providers. If you are considering the heart-wrenching decision to temporarily or permanently close, you may have questions about what to do with the food you have on hand that you can no longer serve to customers.
According to the CDC: “Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.”
There are a number of steps you can take to reduce food waste and lessen the impact on the supply chain. Jump to:
GUIDANCE FOR CLOSING A RESTAURANT
Please consider the following before closing your foodservice establishment:
When temporary closure is the right solution for you, read tips on how to do it right so you can disengage efficiently at minimal cost, and get back up and running quickly when folks are ready to go out to eat again. These tips are adapted from one created by the Arizona State Restaurant Association with the help of Darden Restaurants, 99 Restaurants, and 110 Grill.
Close your restaurant safely including unplugging empty refrigerators, freezers and walk-ins throughout the building. Leave the doors open. Lock alcohol in offices or cages and remove all trash from the building, including office trash cans. Be sure to line the empty cans with fresh liners to reduce fruit fly activity. Here is a sample closing checklist.
RESOURCES FOR PREVENTING FOOD WASTE DURING RE-OPENING
Reducing food waste matters now more than ever—it has a direct impact on business finances and operations. Re-opening during and after the COVID-19 pandemic presents many new challenges and opportunities to prevent food waste and control food costs.
For more resources on preventing food waste, go to Food Waste Stops With Me.
RESOURCES FOR ELIMINATING UNNECESSARY SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
Restaurants face many new regulations and best practices for maintaining safe food service during and after COVID-19. The global pandemic has triggered a discussion of how to ensure the safety of reusable systems in a public health crisis. State of Oregon guidelines for reopening restaurants do not require use of disposable service ware for dine-in service. Restaurants may therefore use durable dish ware, following normal health department guidelines for washing it.
RESOURCES FOR DONATING EXCESS EDIBLE FOOD
Where possible, first consider providing excess food to your employees or employees of neighboring businesses.
Businesses that donate food, in good faith, are protected by the Good Samaritan Act, and are also eligible for a federal tax deduction. Work with your accountant or business manager for financial advice.
While steps can be taken to plan and prepare food carefully, sometimes leftovers and unused ingredients are inevitable. Food banks, pantries and meal sites can take some donations.
If you have packaged produce or distribution ready-packaged goods, contact your Regional Food Bank, or fill out this Oregon Food Bank donation form if you are in the Portland Metro area.
If you are a restaurant or hotel with one-time or ongoing donations of excess edible food please contact local government partners who can connect you with a local food bank, pantry or meal site.
RESOURCES FOR RECYCLING COOKING OIL AND MEAT SCRAPS
GUIDANCE FOR COMPOSTING FOOD SCRAPS AND INEDIBLE FOOD
In some areas, it is possible to compost food scraps and inedible food. Please keep in mind that composting facilities can only accept food that is NOT packaged.
In the Portland metropolitan region (Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties), most businesses can separate food scraps from garbage and put them in separate containers for collection by their garbage haulers. Your local government can provide support to help your business set up or improve your program to separate food scraps for compost. Go to Food Waste Stops With Me to connect with your local government or call, the Metro Recycling Information Center (RIC), 503-234-3000.
A number of communities offer commercial composting pick up or have sites where food scraps can be dropped off. Please contact your local jurisdiction for details.
Food waste requirement implementation delayed in Portland
In 2018, Metro passed a regional policy requiring food scraps from certain businesses to be collected separately from garbage in a phased implementation set to begin on March 31, 2020. Because of the additional hardship during this time, the implementation start date has been delayed until March 2021. The other tiered implementation dates will be reevaluated as the pandemic evolves. Read more about the change on Metro's website.
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