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Why food stewardship matters

STAFF EDITORIAL: At your next meal, look down at your plate. If you’re an American, 30 percent of what is on that plate will end up in the trash.

And that’s a conservative estimate. In reality, it’s probably closer to 40 percent nationwide, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

To discover what food waste looked like at Oral Roberts University, the Oracle did a study of its own.

For nine days, Oracle staffers weighed the waste in the student cafeteria. As Sodexo workers scraped plates and dumped the excess into the trash, we weighed each full barrel of refuse. The study also kept track of the number of students in Saga, or the per capita student count.

With these numbers, it wasn’t hard to figure out how many ounces each student threw out at an average meal.
The magic—or embarrassing—figure: 5.7 ounces.

While that may sound small, 5.7 ounces adds up quickly. It’s like every student throwing away a whole apple, four granola bars or an untouched chicken breast. At every meal.

In just nine days, ORU students tossed 5,181 pounds of food waste in Saga. That’s roughly the size of a robust rhinoceros. Extrapolate that figure over the more than 200 days each school year that students eat in Saga, and that total jumps to 124,344 pounds.

At ORU, the proverbial rhino in our room is food waste. We believe something can —and should — be done about it.
As part of the Oracle’s effort to raise food waste awareness, we are launching the “Eat Smart” campaign.

The goal is simple. If each student reduces what he or she throws away at every meal by only an ounce, we can cut our annual food waste total by roughly 20 percent.

What does an ounce look like? Reducing an ounce of waste is like the weight of an apple slice, a handful of nuts or a slice of bread. Be sure to turn to this issue’s cover story on pages 10 and 11 for more tips on how to reduce food waste.

This campaign is not a clean-your-plate effort, nor is it a finish-your-plate-because-there-are-hungry-children guilt trip.

It’s a matter of stewardship.

During the study, we went behind the conveyor belt during mealtimes to see what exactly gets thrown away. It was shocking to see how much untouched food made it to the trash. Whole pieces of fruit, entire sandwiches and stacks of cookies all met their untimely end during plate scraping.

If our eyes have become bigger than our stomachs, then our eyes now act as the tyrants of our stewardship.

ORU is a Christian university. If any student body should have a firm grasp on what it means to be good stewards, it should be ours.

As we work to become more conscientious as a campus, the Oracle plans to conduct a follow-up study and weigh the waste again. The hope is that we can notably reduce the current 5,181-pound nine-day total before the school year’s end.



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