Buy-in, Business Value, and Best Practices
1131 SW Skamania Lodge Way, Stevenson, WA 98648
Meeting space: 175-acre mountain resort | Meeting space: 22,000 square feet | Rooms: 254
Skamania Lodge has been working independently for 5 years to prevent food waste on their property and develop resources to share best practices they’ve discovered. Besides the community benefits of food waste reduction, the program has added significant business value for the property. They’ve lowered their food cost by five percent through several diverse food waste reduction strategies, including client engagement during event sales discussions. Staff report that the program makes their lives easier, a culture shift which required coordinated effort from property leadership.
The purchasing manager and executive chef are very active and focused on the program. This, and buy-in of property leadership from sales, planning, purchasing, and operations, has been integral to the success and sustainability of their program. In discussions with clients, sales and conference planners explain the benefits of low waste menus and service styles. Skamania has two options for event catering: (1) attendees can dine in their main dining room to share in a collective break or buffet service, or (2) a group can request an organized breakfast, lunch, or dinner that would utilize the same menu items that are being served in the main dining room. This event management style helps mini minimize waste as it reduces the number of total menu items being offered across the hotel making use of economies of scale in the kitchen and easier ingredient repurposing.
The Lodge’s food commissary centralizes most food stores for the property. Instead of simply replenishing stores, the purchasing manager reads through the upcoming BEOs and reviews the recent business volume from each outlet. He checks all refrigerators and freezers, pulls anything that isn’t needed, and creates a robust inventory before placing an order.
The property uses colored bins to capture all food waste to be processed into greywater by their on-site biodigester.
After overcoming challenges and successfully adopting new behaviors, the property team developed a checklist to institutionalize best practices. Seeing the benefit of this resource, the Skamania Team endeavored to develop a tool for hotel properties and food service providers to replicate their efforts. They wrote down every effort they took on property to manage food waste, brought in a consultant to review, and published the iBook, Managing Food Waste: Best Practices.
By involving all relevant staff functions across the property and developing institutional resources to support behavior adoption, Skamania Lodge overcame common obstacles of staff buy-in and turnover. Instead, many of their current obstacles center on their community’s capacity to enable food donation and diversion from landfills.
After working through varied food donation channels, no consistent relationship was formed. The Lodge instead focused on reducing and mitigating waste as much as possible. Without a local composter, the property opted for an on-site food waste digester which discharges waste as greywater. This has been an effective solution despite some operational problems with the digester, including that the city requires it to be shut off during municipal waste water treatment system maintenance.
Staff report that the program makes their lives easier, a culture shift which required coordinated effort from property leadership.
Skamania Lodge is interested in building relationships with local stakeholders to find other solutions to divert food waste from landfills, including DirtHuggers composting services and nearby breweries. The team looks forward to maintaining their food efficiency program in the years to come and scale their program to the 20+ properties in their hotel group.
Excited to share the guidance they’ve developed with other enthusiastic properties, they’re exploring options to publish their iBook as an open source document.