The Coronavirus threat is one that the U.S. has never experienced before, and many businesses are finding themselves in uncharted waters when it comes to preventing further outbreaks. In an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, events all over the country are getting canceled at the last-minute leaving food service companies and restaurants with literal tons of excess prepared food. Depending on where the event was supposed to be held, local regulations banning food waste from the landfill restrict how excess food can be handled. Austin, TX is a perfect example: The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival was canceled among concerns of the spreading COVID-19 scare. Hundreds of vendors were gearing up to handle the massive crowds that flock to the festival every year, and now are sitting on tons of excess food. Austin recently banned throwing food waste into landfills, so what are these businesses left to do with all that uneaten food?
At Quest, we work with restaurant chains every day to recycle food waste, and just because the scale of this situation is bigger than a normal day’s work – that doesn’t mean we can’t help you manage the waste stream sustainably.
Here are the 3 Steps a restaurant or food service company can do to handle the food waste issues created by canceled events.
1. Offer Specials & Promotions
Obviously, the best outcome involves one where you make at least some of your money back. If you jump on the problem fast, you can offer special promotions and discounts to move excess food the good, old fashioned way: selling it. You may have to cut into already narrow margins, but you’ll be able to at least recoup part of your food costs as opposed to waiting and taking a bigger hit.
2. Work with Local Food Banks
Local food banks are always looking for donations to help hungry families and already have the network and infrastructure in place to deploy excess food to people in need, fast. Spoilage is the number one factor here, so again – decisions have to be made quickly. One of the main benefits, besides helping people in need in your community is that the donation triggers an automatic tax incentive. In addition, while enforcing strict food safety procedures that are essential at all times, donating food with the protection of the “Good Samaritan” laws remove liabilities associated with any potential illness from consumption of donated foods. Food donation should always be on your radar, but in times of crisis and unscheduled cancellations – your local food bank should be on your speed dial.
3. Work with a Trusted Food Waste Recyclers for One-Time Large Collections
Special circumstances require innovative solutions, and in the case of unexpected cancellations – you need a company that can put those solutions together quickly. If you operate in a city or state where food waste was recently banned and you do not have a trusted recycler on speed dial, then now is the time to call the experts who will handle not only the one-time large volume but will also create a program for your day-to-day operation that will keep you in compliance.
If you do not operate in cities such as Austin, New York, Boulder, Seattle, New York City or San Francisco that ban food waste from being landfilled, chances are that you will be tempted to pay your waste management a fortune to have the excess food rot in their landfill. Please don’t. Please work with Quest to ensure the food waste is turned into nutrient-rich compost, liquid fertilizer, or animal feed additives. This can be done at about the same price as throwing it in the landfill.
If you are a restaurant or foodservice company affected by sudden closures of events, DO NOT wait. Contact Quest today and let’s get started on making sure that your food waste is handled correctly – this time and every time. Consumers want to know that the companies they spend their money with are doing their due diligence when it comes to handling food waste, and these special circumstances are no exception.