Interactive Socio-Technical Practicum

Reducing Food Waste at IIT-Mandi

Students: Ashish Arya, IIT; Harsh Gupta, IIT; Raghav Sethi, IIT; Ryan Cooney, WPI Katie Merritt, WPI; Colleen O’Shea, WPI.
Advisors: Dr. Viswanath Balakrishnan, IIT; Dr. Shyamasree Dasgupta, IIT; Professor Fabio Carrera, WPI; Professor Svetlana Nikitina, WPI.

The goal of our project was to research mess hall food waste at IIT-Mandi and provide recommendations to reduce it. To realize this goal, we conducted waste audits on consumer and kitchen waste, and held focus groups with students and staff that eat at IIT’s mess halls. The project resulted in the identification of several food waste trends, and the recommendation of assorted methods to reduce food waste, including more food portioning, frequent waste auditing, and greater variety of food options.

Project Outcomes

After analyzing food waste at IIT Mandi’s two mess halls, our team was able to determine several recommendations for the university based on our data collection. We conducted waste audits in both mess halls, ran focus groups with mess consumers, interviewed mess and campus administrators, and determined a set of recommendations for the university to implement in the future. Some of these recommendations regarded systematic changes, like increasing the price of the meal plan and tracking attendance in each mess hall. Other recommendations involved more training for the mess staff about portion sizes and food waste reduction, as well as introducing more variety to the menu. We will present these recommendations to members of the Mess Committee, Green Panel, and mess managers, in hopes that they will take further action to reduce mess hall food waste.

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