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Don’t throw food away, donate it!

Letter to the Editor | Friday, October 10, 2008

A large bag of 50 hot dogs, two large bags of nearly 70 hamburgers, seven packages of around 20 bratwurst each, and a whole lotta buns. This is the colossal amount of food that was leftover from our Teamwork for Tomorrow concession stand this past Saturday for the Purdue game. (Teamwork is a Notre Dame student-run mentoring/literacy program serving children from low-income homes in South Bend.)

As President of Teamwork, I’ll admit that I was the one who placed the overzealous order with Catering by Design, but to be fair it was only after consulting with a number of people as to how much was a reasonable amount. Whether it was just a slow day, we didn’t get as much foot traffic as some other stands (the fact that the official location of our stand is named “Radiation Lab” doesn’t exactly gets mouths watering), or simply that none of us knew how the heck to estimate a meat order is beside the point.

What struck me is that when we called South Dining Hall (which facilitates the early morning game-day meat pick-up) to see what we should do with it, they told us to just throw all of this perfectly good meat away.

As per SAO and Risk Management’s guidelines, our unused meat was kept covered, on ice, and at least six inches above the ground throughout the morning/afternoon. There was nothing to indicate that this meat, which would have been safe by SAO and Risk Management standards to cook and serve, was now unsafe to donate.

It seems a bit odd to me that a concession stand system regulated and run by a Catholic University, which just days before held an academic forum on sustainability, wouldn’t even suggest using the meat for another purpose, most especially donating the meat to a shelter or another place it could be enjoyed.

On the Forum’s website, one of the suggestions it gives on reducing individual energy consumption is “reuse materials that would otherwise be thrown away.” I don’t think it takes a great amount of mental strain to see that you are helping to save energy whether you’re re-using a plastic Martin’s bag or seeing that pounds of meat don’t go to waste.

With the extra Teamwork meat still on ice, I called the first shelter that came to mind, the South Bend Center for the Homeless, who told me that they are open 24 hours a day and would be happy to accept the meat (and any type of food donation) at any time. With the help of my parents (thanks, mom and dad) I was able to get the meat and buns downtown to the Center.

For those of who will be involved in planning/running/working at a concession stand in the immediate or distant future (especially this weekend for Stanford): please consider donating leftover meat and buns so that others can enjoy them and so that they will not go to waste.

Just think of the good we could do with the extra meat from the 21 concession stands that operate every football Saturday. Good for the environment because we’re making use of what we’ve already spent energy producing and transporting, good for community agencies who contribute so much to South Bend, and good for those people who will be able to enjoy a tasty brat or burger.

Better yet, let’s get SAO on board and get organized pick-up for meat and buns (maybe the great people who work with FoodShare can help get us on the right track), so we can more easily get this food to the Center for the Homeless or another shelter that will make good use of it.

Just as the Notre Dame’s commitment to promoting and supporting community involvement speaks to the heart of the University’s mission, so too does the effort to maximize sustainability and reduce energy consumption (most easily accomplished by reducing energy waste). Let’s combine these two worthy goals with another great ND tradition, student run football Saturday concession stands, and donate any extra meat/buns to somewhere that will put them to good use

Emily Balthasar


off campus