Food Waste, a Non-Politically Correct Real Problem

Roberto Ferdman:

There is naturally little sympathy for the plight of top-tier college students who lose sleep over the authenticity of their bottomless buffets. But there also seems to be very little public concern for an actual, real, non-politically correct problem with college campus cafeterias that fewer people are paying attention to: waste.

Hopefully, if you dined with us in Stevenson [Dining Hall], there would be one thing in every meal that you would want to eat,” Michile Gross, the director of business operations and dining services at Bon Appetit, the food service provider on contract with Oberlin, told the Review in explaining the plethora of choices.

The word hopefully here is the key, because it’s hard to predict whether students will lap up the food that is put in front of them (especially when tastes are as fickle as they seem to be today). And that question mark has been producing piles of leftover food that end up in the trash, much to the chagrin of the companies providing it, and the mouths it could help to feed.

The average college student, thanks in large part to campus meal services, generates more than 14o pounds of food waste per year, according to Recycling Works, a government-funded recycling program in Massachusetts. In all, the group estimates roughly 22 million pounds of food are thrown out at colleges each year….

The Campus Kitchens Project, which was founded in 2001, aims to do just that. The non-profit partners with student volunteers, dining service companies (like Bon Appetit), and local communities to make use of all, or least a sizable portion, of the uneaten food. And it has seen its influence grow considerably over the years.

Just this past fall, Campus Kitchens, which now works with 49 schools around the country, reached an exciting milestone: The program quietly celebrated the recovery of 5 million pounds of food since its inception, along with the resulting 2.5 million meals the reinvigorated leftovers has helped produce for those in need over the years. The marker is likely to be the first of many: the project is currently on track to recover more than a million pounds of food per year going forward.

“I hope this inspires more people to help,” said Toscano.

The good news is that there’s reason to believe the efforts are nudging others to act.


About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.