Reducing food waste on campus

Jeffery LamsonSpecial to the Southern News

In an effort to reduce food waste on campus, the Office of Sustainability has had a lot of help from student interns as well as volunteers from the Geography Club, and Chartwells employees.

According to senior geography major and Office of Sustainability intern Courtney Pesce the Geography Club been a major asset to the program.
Pesce, whose concentration is in applied sustainability and is also a member of the Geography Club, encouraged her club to volunteer. They, along with club advisor Eric West of the geography department, have fully embraced the food recovery program. In just three weeks they have put in over 40 hours of work.

Chartwells has been important to the food recovery efforts as well; many of the employees have also embraced the initiative to reduce waste. “they have embraced this, they love this,” said Recycling Coordinator, Heather Stearns. Some of the big efforts and advancements in the goal of making Conn Hall a zero-waste facility is both the composting project with Blue Earth Compost in Southington and food donations to St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen in Hamden. Since the start of 2017, 10,300 pounds of food have been collected in comparison to 4,900 pounds for the whole of 2016.

Food that students leave on their plates does not go into the trash as some may think, but instead is collected and transported to Blue Earth Compost. This is where their anaerobic digester takes what would otherwise be in a landfill or incinerator and instead extracts methane, creates electricity and also creates a compost soil which is then used in the SCSU Community Garden. 900 pounds of the food produced has been either donated to St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen or used back at Conn Hall. In this, the Office of Sustainability has created a cyclical process that they are very proud of.

As for food that is not served, it is donated to St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen who now are having enough food to share with other local food banks after having to cut serving portions just a short while ago.

SCSU students are encouraged to volunteer.

Stearns said, “Come knockin’, we’ve got a place for you.”

Any help is appreciated and does not require a large time commitment.

Students can also do their part by, “being mindful of the food that they put on their plate,” said intern, Nicole Gigas.

Intern Julie DellaVecchia, who is pursuing her nursing degree said, “Eat with your stomach, not with your eyes.” This is in reference to food that is being discarded which would otherwise be donated to those in need.

“It’s more than just volunteering, it’s passion,” said Courtney Pesce, which is evident at every level of the Food Recovery Project.

Stearns, Pesce, DellaVecchia, and Gigas all spoke about the rewarding nature and ease of getting involved. They would like to encourage students to volunteer or do their part in any way they can to reduce food waste in the hopes of being as close to zero-waste as possible.

Photo Credit: Jeffery Lamson

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