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

The Mayor's Food Saver Challenge is a challenge to restaurants of all kinds to reduce the amount of food going to waste in your facility.


  • 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 of the food saving practices listed below in your restaurant for at least 30 days. 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 followup survey that will be emailed to you.

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 can direct it to people in need. Finally, after maximizing prevention and donation strategies, direct any remaining food scraps to animal feed, compost or anaerobic digestion. Visit EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy for more information.

To participate in the Challenge, commit to implement or expand at least five of the following food-saving practices in your restaurant for a period of at least 30 days. The Food Saver Reduction / Prevention 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 at the beginning and end of challenge period – or check Food Saver Reduction / Prevention 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
  • Utilize foods that might otherwise go unused (like imperfect fruits and vegetables, unusual plant parts, and “nose to tail” approaches with animal products)
  • Creatively re-purpose surplus foods
  • 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.

Donate Surplus Food

  • The Food Donation section of this page has links to help you donate.

Recycle Food Scraps


  • Forty percent of the food we produce in the United States goes uneaten. When we waste that food, we waste all the water, energy, agricultural chemicals, labor, and other resources that go into growing, storing and transporting it. Most waste occurs among consumers, restaurants, grocery stores, and institutional foodservice. This Challenge will engage many restaurants of different types in reducing and raising awareness about food waste.
  • Participating restaurants will save money by adopting practices that reduce food waste.
  • Restaurants that complete the Challenge will be recognized by the Mayor.
  • Restaurants that sign up to send organic waste to be composted through Compost Nashville will receive a discount if participating in the Challenge.
  • Benefits to the community include increasing the amount of donated food, reducing the amount of organic waste sent to landfill, and raising local awareness.

Register for the Mayor's Food Saver Challenge

For more information or for support, please contact