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Our office is a “food fest”

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Question: We regularly have events or meetings at our workplace where we serve food and then allow employees to eat any leftovers.

But we have employees who run to “pile” food on their plates as if they had not eaten for days, placing food in their lunch boxes to take home to their families, and simply not considering others waiting in line to get something to eat.

How can I write a professional, companywide e-mail detailing the need for manners when eating any catered leftovers? - Isela Rosales.


Is that really necessary? Shoot when I was responsible for catering an event and there were leftovers, I gave a personal heads-up to the nonhoarders so they could have first dibs on the leftovers before the office hoarders got wind of it. At the same time, since I was responsible for cleaning up the mess I would just assume folks cleared the food out ASAP.

Well, if you want to be the office "food police"...go aheade. I figure it doesn't cost me anything, it gets cleaned up, and I am not going to have the waist line those hogs are! Whoopy!

We have to clear out the conference room after a lunch meeting so that it's clean for the next meeting. I find that the people who come in after the meeting just delay my opportunity to clean up and leave a larger mess than there was before. When I go into a room to clean up, I let the latecomers know that the food will be moved to the kitchen and they will be able to help themselves there. You'd be surprised how many offer to help me clear so that the process can be speeded up. Once they've left the conference room with the food, I can clean up a bit before the next meeting.

It's not worth it to me to try and control what other people do. The only reasonable way reduce the problem is to order less food. But, I'd rather make sure there is enough for the meeting. Let it go.

Only allow the non-participating employees access to the food after the attending employees and guests have finished. Excellent idea to have those ravenous employees help clean up by moving the food to the employee break room. Make them earn what they eat! The only email that may need to be sent is to reiterate that the left over food is not available until the meeting participants have finished and the invitation is made.

I order lunches often and go through the same issues and agree with anonymous - you can't change what people do. So, I just changed my own attitude since I know what behavior to expect . However, I do say something when they are on me like flies and don't let me put the food on the lunch room counter like "excuse me (so and so), please give me a chance to put this down so I can get out of the way" and so and so actually offers to help! I didn't personally pay for the food, so it doesn't belong to "me", so I just do what I have to do and walk away and not give it a second (OK, third) thought.

I disagree with the other posters. I think it's not fair for employees to bring extra food home to their families, unless everyone has had a chance to get their fair share. (You can't really tell employees that they've piled their plates too high if they plan to eat that food for lunch. Some people simply eat more than others.)

You might consider putting out a sign by the leftovers saying something like "As a courtesy to others, we ask that you don't take leftovers home unless there is extra food left at the end of the day. Thank you for your cooperation."

I used to send out e-mails every time I had extra food. People would run to the kitchen to get food. I stopped doing that, because they begin to expect me to let them know when I was ordering so they would not have to buy food for lunch. Or people would linger in the kitchen waiting for me to bring in the food. I let everyone know I have no problems setting the extra food out, but DO NOT chase me down trying to get to the food. Let me clean up & put everything out, then you are more than welcome to the leftovers. My HR Coordinator loves cookies, so I ALWAYS take one out for her – she also helps me set up or clean up. One of the executives loves food, so he usually helps me clean up so he can get first dibs. I don't think posters are necessary or trying to police who takes what & how much. You know the saying you catch more flies with honey. . .

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