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How to Participate in the Mayor's Food Saver Challenge for Restaurants


  • Register for the Challenge
  • Fill out an introductory survey that will be emailed to you once you register.
  • Implement or expand a minimum of five (5) of the food saving practices listed below in your restaurant. You may include practices that you used prior to the Challenge, but at least one new practice must be adopted for the Challenge.
  • Complete a follow-up survey that will be emailed to you. The survey will take no longer than 20 minutes to complete and will include questions about your successful practices as well as challenges. In addition, the survey will ask for any information that you have regarding measurable results, which could include anything from recipes created to repurpose leftover food to meals donated to buckets of compost generated.

Food Saving Practices

The best way to reduce the impacts associated with food waste is to prevent wasting food – prioritize these practices in your restaurant. The next most important strategy is to donate surplus food to organizations that will direct it to people in need. Finally, after maximizing prevention and donation strategies, direct any remaining food scraps to animal feed or a compost hauler. Visit EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy for more information.

To participate in the Challenge, restaurants should commit to implement or expand at least five of the following food-saving practices. The Resources section of this page contains resources for more information on these practices.

Reduce / Prevent Wasted Food

  • Measure back of house and/or front of house food waste (this can be as simple as separating food waste into a bucket and counting number of buckets generated each day for a week every month – or check the Resources section of this page for information on other measurement tools).
  • Adopt new practices for food purchasing, storage and right-sized cooking quantities to minimize waste; if possible, track any changes in amounts of food purchased.
  • Utilize foods that might otherwise go unused (like imperfect fruits and vegetables and unusual plant parts) and take “nose to tail” approaches with animal products; record any new or modified recipes.
  • Creatively re-purpose surplus foods and record any new or modified recipes.
  • Offer more flexible portions (like smaller portions, half-size options, etc.)
  • Cook in small batches and/or cook to order
  • Make side dishes and bread optional for your customers
  • Actively encourage use of appropriately sized “to-go” containers
  • Educate your consumers by participating in the Save The Food campaign
  • Engage your staff through training on food waste reduction and food donation, and through recognition for practices that reduce food waste
  • Enlist at least three restaurants in signing up for the Challenge
  • Other: since you know your business best, adopt other changes that reduce wasted food in your facility and track their impact.

Donate Surplus Food

  • Set up a donation partnership with a local charitable organization and, to the highest degree possible, keep track of how much and how often you are donating. (Tracking your donations also allows you to get the fullest tax deduction for donating).
  • See the Related Links in the sidebar for help donating.

Recycle Food Scraps

  • Recycle food scraps by composting them (compost on-site, deliver to The Compost Company, or contact Compost Nashville for pickup services). Keep track of how much you compost, or if you use a hauler, ask them to do so for you.
  • Donate or sell food scraps for animal consumption (Walden's Puddle Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center will accept raw produce, raw meat, and uncooked diary products, and some area hog farms may accept baked goods and other foods) and keep track of how much and how often you donate.

For more information or for support, please see the Nashville Food Saver website or contact