GOALympics Teams Compete in Popular Food Waste Competition

Food Waste: Not on My Watch! 

That’s the rallying cry of our Corporate Social Responsibility and site teams committed to fighting food loss and waste. 

Recently, Sodexo USA employees got the chance to show off their waste-cutting skills during our annual GOALympics, a spirited contest rewarding innovation in waste reduction. Site teams won a total of 50 gold, silver and bronze medals for devising creative activities and events. 

GOALympics had clear objectives, says Jude Medeiros, Manager, Sustainable Operations at Sodexo North America: increase engagement; generate awareness and support; reinforce individual responsibility; and emphasize the value of reducing loss and repurposing food that might otherwise be wasted. 

Medeiros, an experienced operations leader, is passionate about educating frontline teams, customers and guests about food waste. She knows it’s a critical issue for the environment, our communities and the bottom line. 

Holding a competition like GOALympics increases awareness that supports positive behavior change, she says. And our on-site teams also had some much-needed fun!

Going for Gold

Seven Sodexo USA business segments participated in GOALympics — Seniors, Sodexo Live!, Healthcare, Government, Corporate Services, Campus and Schools — executing lively and meaningful activities. 

Our Campus segment took the overall gold, winning 16 medals, followed by Healthcare and Government winning silver with nine medals each and Sodexo Live! winning bronze with six medals. 

Overall, participating sites: 

  • Recorded 230,838 pounds of waste
  • Prevented 109,910 pounds of waste
  • Avoided 347 metric tons in CO2 emissions
  • Saved 91,588 meals 

 

We know food loss and waste is a massive global problem and a contributor to harmful carbon emissions. So, Sodexo is committed to a 50% reduction in food waste by 2025. 

The first step in fighting food loss and waste is tracking what we’re doing. Here’s how two of our GOALympics winners tackled the problem.

Vidant Beaufort in Washington, North Carolina

The Vidant Beaufort team provides in-room meals and cafeteria services at a small community hospital. Here, the roughly 25 employees have used Sodexo’s waste management tool, WasteWatch powered by Leanpath, since 2020. 

Food waste is always a focus, General Manager Denise Hewitt says. We talk about waste every day. We do a daily huddle, and we share statistics.

This team is always engaged in fun, playing boisterous games on Wacky Wednesdays, like mini hockey with straws. But for GOALympics, they really went for it, winning four medals — two gold and two silver. 

Winning programs included Recipe Warrior, a contest challenging staff to creatively use ingredients before they expired. (Mexican casserole and bread pudding were just two winning tasty dishes.) 

The team also won awards for creating community and personal herb gardens and for high engagement in a Price Is Right-style game, in which employees guessed the weight and cost of food items and suggested uses. 

This is a fabulous team, Hewitt says. They love our patients. Since she joined the site two and half years ago, she has focused on training and inspiring the team to its full potential. They understand their value now, she says. So, when we train them, they really take it to heart.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California

This SodexoLive! team of about 50 employees provides food services for the museum and library, including special events. The team won a gold medal for its interactive “weigh the waste” event, Customer Participation Pacesetters. 

General Manager Erica Block says they set out bins labeled “Food Waste,” “Recyclable Waste” and “Inedible Waste.” Guests were asked to sort their leftovers and trash as they left. Guests who cleaned their plates got congratulatory stickers. 

We really learned a lot, Block says. The guests were really interested and participated. As they tracked what people tossed, they realized their french fries were too big, and the salad needed more dressing. The observations led to changes that have decreased waste. 

The team also won a gold medal for Leftover Legends, an activity designed to repurpose leftover vegetables from an event into a delicious staff meal. A hearty, comforting Baked Potato Chowder was born, cooked up by Executive Chef Josh Zinderman.  

The contest was fun and educational, Block says. t’s important for us to be mindful and realize how much waste we are creating here.

She’s happy the site recently returned to using compostable salad containers and is looking forward to future innovations in composting and waste reduction. We’re well on our way to being sustainable, biodegradable, composting and saving the planet!

About the Expert

Jude Medeiros is Manager, Sustainable Operations at Sodexo North America. Visit her LinkedIn profile.