Exploring Opportunities to Prevent Food Waste within the Glasgow School Catering System
The overall purpose of this study was to explore opportunities to prevent food waste within the Glasgow school catering system focusing on the specific activities of contract caterer, Cordia, in Glasgow Primary schools. The research problem investigated, included what processes, behaviours and factors might contribute to waste within the system and how the issue is understood by those working on the delivery of school lunches on a daily basis. The methodology of the study involved a qualitative case study design that aimed to examine the issue of food waste within a real-life context. An interpretivist approach underpinned the aims and objectives of the project and foregrounded a focus on the voice of the catering staff which is arguably absent from similar studies. The methods employed were semi-structured interviews and phenomenological observations. A ‘systems-thinking’ framework was used to analyse the data. The key findings of this project included a number of inefficiencies or weak ‘feedback loops’ within the system which result in food waste being generated as well as a diminished connection with food on the part of the catering staff. The results further suggested that the power or purpose of the system is potentially not within the control Cordia and has an impact on how the different elements of the system interact. The recommendations to Cordia drawn from these findings include strengthening ‘feedback loops’ and the accuracy of the information available within the system while also reinstating a connection with food beyond target-based standards. Overall, the research concludes that approaching the issue of food waste from an interdisciplinary, ‘gastronomic’, perspective allows for new interpretations and, potentially, solutions to this and other systemic problems.