Investigation: Cafeteria Food Waste

Instructions / How to do this investigation

Cafeteria Food Waste Protocol 


  • Scale for weighing waste in lbs
  • 5-gallon bucket with lid for milk waste
  • 10-gallon trash can for all other food waste


  1. Gather materials 
  2. Set up and label the 5-gallon bucket for milk waste and the 10-gallon trash can for all other food waste
  3. Make sure that food is deposited into the correct receptacle
  4. After the meal, weigh each bucket
  5. Record the weight of each bucket using datasheetheet
  6. Also, note what was served at the meal
  7. Repeat steps 1 – 6 for at least a 4-day week (Monday – Thursday)
  8. After collecting data, look for patterns that could help answer questions such as:
    1. What is being thrown out and why?
    2. Do specific menu items result in more or less food waste? 
    3. Are there certain days when more food is wasted? 
  9. After analyzing the data, devise a plan to educate your school community about the amount of food being wasted and any patterns you’ve identified
  10. After the education campaign, find a period where similar food is being served and re-run steps 1 – 8. 
  11. Analyze the resulting data to see whether food waste was reduced after the education campaign was run. 


Tell us how your data collection/analysis is going

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