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Campaign cuts student food waste on campus

foodstewardshipinfographic-2_ashleysmithStudents eating in the university cafeteria slashed food waste by 492 pounds over nine days, weighing in 15 percent less dining refuse in early April than similar data in March.

Measurements came from a follow-up study conducted by the Oracle after launching its campus-wide “Eat Smart” campaign. The campaign challenged students to reduce waste by an ounce per meal.

During both the pre-test and post-test, the Oracle weighed the dining hall’s 32-gallon trashcans at breakfast, lunch and dinner to log daily food waste weights. The study also totaled the number of students eating in Saga, keeping track of the per capita student count.

Each student reduced his or her food waste by .8 ounces per meal, just short of the one-ounce goal.

Though 15 percent less waste may seem like a small figure, it is statistically significant and could amount to major savings, said Tim Philley, executive vice president and chief operations officer.

But to continue at this rate, Philley stressed that a change in food stewardship culture would be necessary.

Keeping in mind that $625,000 in annual food waste represents about $2,800 a day, he encouraged students to consider the following scenario:

“Imagine another $2,800 a day spent on food. That’s $19,600 per week or $10.31 per student on a meal plan per week,” Philley said. “This may not sound like a ton per student, but it would afford a weekly steak night or a gourmet entrée once per week.”

He hopes students will pass this message along to incoming freshmen.

“It’s your food program,” Philley said. “You can choose to either waste it or have better options.”

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