school canteen, Source: Nantes Métropole

AI to prevent food waste in school canteens in Nantes

AI to prevent food waste in school canteens in Nantes

The software could cut as many as 430 meals produced in excess per day

The Nantes Metropolis faces a huge challenge related to food waste in school restaurants. Every day between 15,000 and 16,000 meals are served in local schools, but catering staff are only informed of the number of children who need a meal on the day of production. As for ingredient orders, they should be made at least several weeks in advance.

This creates the perfect conditions for errors and for the wasting of resources. For several years now, resolving such issues has been entirely up to catering agents, but in recent months the French city has found a way to make their work easier, relying on artificial intelligence (AI).

Artificial intelligence supports professionals

Since the start of 2020, the city has been experimenting with an AI solution that would make it possible to anticipate the number of children who will come for lunch in the canteen, several weeks in advance and thereafter - to adapt the orders to the suppliers and the production of the central kitchen. The project is possible thanks to data on school catering over the past 10 years, made available to technicians from the two Nantes companies, Verteego and Maestria, involved in the project.

The results of simulations for 2018-2019 of the prediction models developed, show that the city could avoid the excessive production of 430 meals per day on average, according to Florent Bedecarrats who is in charge of the digital resources at Nantes Métropole. In addition, he says that “AI aims to give agents comfort, secure them in their forecasts. We do not replace agents, who are the only ones who know the reality on the ground and who is able to react to risks; we help them.”

Eventually, the AI ​​will be developed for the next few months, with the data and source code available under an open-source license. The project should end with the publication of a report that will allow other territories to take up the work and enrich it.



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