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OCSE, Sodexo partner to reduce food waste

| Friday, September 25, 2015

Saint Mary’s Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) and Sodexo, the Noble Family Dining Hall food services supplier, have formed a food recovery partnership to benefit the Center for the Homeless (CFH). The program provides food that the dining hall did not use to the CFH and eliminates the amount of food uneaten in the dining hall each week.

Last year, senior Eleanor Jones, helped to initiate the Food Recovery Program at Saint Mary’s as a volunteer opportunity through Circle K. Now, Jones is one of the three student workers for the program.

Director of OCSE Erika Buhring said turning volunteer efforts into paid positions for students solidifies this program will continue year after year in a strong manner.

“Though volunteers are wonderful, it was a lot for one person to handle. Having three student [workers] will certainly assist in the work distribution,” Buhring said.“In addition, these students will be able to use cars from the college to transport the food.”

Buhring said student workers will go to the dining hall to load up the food that Sodexo packaged and weighed for them, twice a week.

The food is then taken and delivered to the CFH and distributed to the guests in need of assistance. The program is all about working together to provide food resources to those who need it in our local community, she said.

Buhring said Barry Bowles, director of food services, was especially helpful in having Sodexo get food ready to transport to the CFH.

“He made sure the company would be able to contribute the food, weigh it and package it properly,” she said.

CFH volunteer coordinator and ’15 alumna Christin Kloski and her supervisor Peter Lombardo also helped to make arrangements for food delivery.

Buhring said she has  worked with Bowles, Sodexo, Kloski and Lombardo before on other projects and it was a pleasure to work with them again on the Food Recovery Program.

Buhring said one in six individuals is food insecure in this country, so this program attempts to combat those numbers.

“I would like others at Saint Mary’s to know that their fellow Belles, local offices, agencies and organizations are working together to help to make a real difference in their community,” Buhring said.

Jones said she and the two other student workers, junior Jade Johnson and first-year Sidnee Silveira, pick up the food from the dining hall and record the weight to keep track of the impact of the program.

“The food is packaged for us to take, we weigh the amount, and I put the amount of food that we saved into the National Food Recovery Data-Base,” she said.

“At the end of each semester, Food Recovery tells us the amount we saved and the amount the whole national program saved. The current national goal is 1.2 million pounds by May 2016. Currently, the total is 872,519 pounds of food recovered since 2011,” Jones said. “Since I have worked on this project since the beginning, I hold Food Recovery very close to my heart.

“The reason I decided to collaborate with OCSE is because I knew the program was bigger than myself and that this was the most guaranteed way to make it sustainable.”

Jones said she would like to see the program expand to an everyday recovery and for the program to find other ways to manage and conserve food waste. 

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