OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Catering to the Food Waste from Caterers

Collect food surplus following large catered events and create pop-up serving stations.

Photo of Hannah Chatham
9 7

Written by


We are two friends who currently work at a catering company (no name is needed, many catering companies operate in similar fashions) and have an inside look into what happens in the kitchen after major events. Sometimes the extra food is given to staff members, and more often than not, the food is thrown away, on the spot. 


Our idea is that there could be a company who comes to pick up the extra food immediately following the event and re-serves it to those in need at designated location. Those in need could receive an alert on their phones when the food is ready and being served, as event end times vary. 

We would need to work with a health/food service professional to determine what food is safe/unsafe to re-serve. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

There is ALWAYS leftover food at catered events. We are simply missing a system of how to re-route the waste.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a industrial design student with a background in design research. My friend is experienced in restaurant business and food hygiene.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Delia Kulukundis

Thanks Hannah Chatham and Sachin Bhide for your thoughtful discussion of this!  I know that in some areas, health regulations make it difficult to rescue/redirect prepared food that has already been served to the public (as in a buffet), while the extras in the kitchen that haven't been served can be legally donated.  (This is the case with the health code in my area, as I found out when researching City Harvest - food rescue at scale in NYC ) So that makes me think that caterers plating food, rather than serving it in a buffet, could lead to less waste, or could leave more of the excess food in a condition to be donated.  Come to think of it, I'd really love to see a rigorous experiment done (maybe in some corporate cafeteria somewhere) to compare the different amounts of food waste from a buffet setup versus having the food plated.  

View all comments