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Week encourages campus to reduce waste

John Cameron | Monday, March 28, 2011

Beginning Monday, students presenting a clean tray at the dining halls will have a chance to win a 100 Flex point prize as part of Waste-Free Week.


A joint initiative by Food Services, the Office of Sustainability and Student Government’s eND Hunger campaign, the Week seeks to raise awareness about campus food waste.


“While there is still waste on campus, I think the students are doing a great job with reducing the amount of food and liquids we are wasting,” Food Services representative Elizabeth Davis said. “After seeing the results from the fall, I was so happy with how much we were able to decrease the level of waste.”


Representatives will be stationed at the dish-collection lines 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Friday in North Dining Hall and all week in South Dining Hall. Students can join the “Clean Plate Club” and receive a ticket as entry to the Flex point raffle.


Davis said she hopes the Week will encourage students to further reduce their waste level, which fell last semester following Waste-Free Wednesdays, a similar initiative.


Last semester, dining hall waste fell from 6.27 ounces per meal to just 3.11 ounces per meal. Davis said measurements will be taken following Waste-Free Week to determine if waste had been reduced further.


“We will be conducting a ‘Waste n Weigh’ April 7th to see if we were able to decrease that number,” she said. “With No-Impact Week coming up April 2 to April 8, we wanted to start if off with not wasting as much food.”


Davis said most food waste is a result of students unintentionally taking too much food at meals.


“It can be so easy to waste, especially when you come in super hungry and grab too much food or don’t like what you ended up grabbing,” she said.


As easy as it is to waste food, Davis said individual students being more conscientious can lead to significant waste-reduction.


“I think there is this misconception, whether it is with wasting food, water or energy, that it is difficult for one person to make an impact,” she said. “Students are really making that shift to help reduce waste.”


Beth Simpson, chair of the eND Hunger campaign, said on-campus waste-reduction offers students a way to contribute to the greater fight against hunger-related issues.


“In terms of tangible ways students can have an active impact on food insecurity and food justice, their own consumption is most basic,” Simpson said. “Just being conscious everyday of how much food we waste … lesser waste on one end means resources can be better directed to people who don’t have the ability to waste food.”


An initiative of student body president Catherine Soler and vice president Andrew Bell, eND Hunger emphasizes student collaboration with community members to tackle the issue of hunger in the South Bend area. The initiative has been working through the West Side Food Security Council on a number of projects, including plans for a community nutrition center based around the existing farmer’s market.


“We’ve begun our initial survey phase, mainly conducting surveys among west side residents about the information they currently have about the farmer’s market, which we hope to expand to a year-round market,” Simpson said. “[The center] would likely involve a kitchen as well for education. That remains a big part of it.”


Currently, about 25 students are directly involved in one of eND Hunger’s five subcommittees, which focus on issues such as campus and community engagement, financing and research. Simpson said even if students aren’t directly working with the program, they still have the opportunity to contribute to hunger-prevention.


“Opportunities to impact hunger by means of food justice are not limited to the council or volunteering, but can be implemented through simple daily choices,” she said.


Despite originating as a Soler-Bell initiative, Simpson said eND Hunger would continue after the nearing student government turnover.


“Though it was started as a year-long initiative, the eND Hunger initiative is going to be lasting and we’re looking forward to progressing it into next year,” she said. “Our vision spans long into the future, and we’re still in the groundwork steps.”