"The kitchen keeps making the bean salad and I keep throwing them away since no students take them"
- (Dining Hall Staff)
It was interactions like these and the growing issue of food waste in college dining halls contributing to just under 20 trillion tons of carbon emissions that inspired us to tackle this issue. While composting this waste is a solution, heavy contamination and studies citing increased consumer waste are its drawbacks. The key to reducing waste is at the source and, over the years, research has shown that better food quality and increased student awareness have that effect. More importantly, dining hall chefs now more than ever are consistently finding and implementing ways to increase consumer feedback to conform food options to students but existing products are letting them down, tackling bits of the overall issue to ineffective means.
Raccoon Eyes tackles food waste head-on at the source. Using vision, graphics, and natural language processing technology paired with behavioral psychology research, we provide not only quantitative insights into specific amounts of different wasted food types but also increased essential qualitative student feedback regarding food waste reasons and desirable menu options. More importantly, Raccoon Eyes informs students the carbon impact of their waste, which studies have shown to reduce over portioning.
Using this data, chefs can adjust pizza portions if students are constantly throwing away pizza due to taking too much, recognize weekly trends in kitchen leftovers to reduce production, and become better connected with student palates. While for students, recognizing the impact of their waste paired with better food quality will reduce their over-portioning and leftovers.
Food waste has a larger carbon footprint than the airline industry. If this statistic has any chance of changing, we need to change how we look at waste. Raccoon Eyes provides the business incentive towards a cleaner earth.