How Tackling Food Waste Makes Workers Happier

Grocery store employee stocking produce aisle

When Starbucks announced in March that it would donate all its unused food at the end of the day (every last salad, sandwich and pastry), it wasn’t the first major company to aggressively confront food waste. However, the motivation behind the move — that Starbucks employees wanted to stop wasting food — highlighted for the first time the close link between food waste and employee morale.

Through surveys and direct emails, Starbucks employees “had the courage to tell us that they just couldn’t stand (food waste) anymore,” Jane Maly, brand manager of Starbucks Food, told Mashable. “They challenged us for a solution, and we dedicated a team to it and all this time. Now, they can celebrate that their voices were heard.”

As grocery operators, you already know food waste is a significant challenge for the industry. Currently, supermarkets, grocery stores and distribution centers account for 8 million tons of the total 62.5 million tons of food that get wasted annually in the U.S., according to a report by ReFED. You likely know that reducing food waste can positively affect your bottom line, cutting disposal costs and losses due to shrink.

Now, if you needed one more reason why reducing food waste should be a priority for your organization, there’s the issue of employee morale. A simple online search will yield plenty of results of current and former food-industry workers deriding the pervasive waste they witness and, often unwillingly, must be complicit with on a daily basis. Their comments make it clear that while fair pay, fair treatment and good working conditions are important for morale, it’s also vital for workers to feel as if they’re part of the food-waste solution — not the problem.

When unused food gets donated at the end of the day, the workers involved in implementing the donation program can feel part of something that’s making a difference in their community. From the servers who bag the food throughout the day to the people who load the food onto the truck at the end of the day, workers reap the satisfaction of helping others with simple, doable steps. What’s more, by engaging in this kind of program that benefits the environment and the community, organizations can elevate their status as responsible and caring corporate partners — and who doesn’t want to work for a company that’s perceived so positively?

We recently blogged about steps grocery suppliers and retailers can take to help reduce food waste. ReFed recommended making changes in packaging used to protect food throughout the supply chain in order to prolong freshness and slow spoilage of perishable products. Packaging changes, such as using Reusable Plastic Containers, can also help curb the amount of food that’s wasted through damage and shrink.

Imagine how much happier your team members tasked with unloading trucks and stocking shelves might be if they never again had to discard a carton of crushed eggs or waste packaged meats that were damaged or split open in transit from the distribution center to the store? RPCs can help grocery suppliers and retailers improve employee morale by reducing waste at key points throughout the supply chain.

Better morale means improved productivity and a healthier bottom line. Reducing food waste makes sense for your business, your community, the environment and your employees.

To learn more about how reusables create more efficient supply chains, click here.

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