Every day students waste food. There is no question about it. In the US alone, about 30% of college dorm food gets wasted. That accounts to $48.2 Billion worth of food that gets wasted every year. And it is not that students are not aware of the growing food waste trend; many simply feel that there isn’t much for them to do about it.
For the past 14 weeks, I have observed students on on my campus every day as they go to eat at the University Center Dining Hall. Here students have a wide range of choices to their disposal. In this all-you-can-eat buffet, students can get various foods that range from comfort food, to pizza, to ethnic food, and a deli. When students fill up their plates, they then go and charge the meal to their card. Students living within the University Center, or UC, get 15 meals a week while students living in other dorms have up to 150 meals throughout the semester.
Many students are aware of their own eating habits. Some of the students I spoke to claim that because of how much they pay, they feel they deserve to get as much food as possible from the dining hall. Many pile their plates full of food and eat very little. Others take samples from the different foods to see what they like and what they don’t. All in all, the students all say that they are guilty of wasting food. A common consensus is that the food looks better than tastes.
Our Food Waste Team made several attempts to schedule an interview with the University Center’s Dining Hall about college students’ food waste and what the UC does with discarded food. Unfortunately, the UC never responded other than to say that our requests would be forwarded to the head chef. Alas, after further attempts to contact the chef and UC dining mangers, the UC never responded.