News

Real Food Challenge calls attention to food waste

By Shannon O’Brien ’15

April 24, 2014

“We’re not judging the amount of food an individual wastes,” said Morgan Osborn ’14 of Real Food Challenge’s ‘Weigh the Waste’ campaign in Commons. “We are trying to change behaviors and raise awareness about the issue, but we also want to know why people are wasting their food.”

On Wednesday, April 16, students from Real Food Challenge partnered with Bon Appétit to collect uneaten food and other post-lunch waste from students’ plates in Commons Dining Hall. The event, called ‘Weigh the Waste,’ was intended to make students think about the consequences of their discarded food.

Osborn, one of the leaders of Real Food Challenge, explained that the goal of Weigh the Waste was to create consciousness about reducing excess consumption. “We have great initiatives like composting or packaging and distributing leftover food,” said Osborn, “but we don’t have any initiatives to address pre-consumer waste.”

Hamilton’s chapter of Real Food Challenge planned the event as a part of the national campaign to shift from consumption of industrially-produced food to “real food” options—local, fair-trade, and humanely produced food.

Heather Krieger ’14, another leading member of Real Food Challenge, explained that the ultimate aim of Weigh the Waste is to make concrete changes in Hamilton’s dining halls. “We hope to officially sign the commitment this semester for 25 percent ‘real’ food by 2020,” said Krieger, “which is higher than the typical 20 percent that colleges and universities tend to sign on for.”

According to Osborn and Krieger, Bon Appétit has been receptive to Real Food Challenge’s ideas and willing to help make changes in any way it can. Bon Appétit has looked into buying more preserved local foods for the winter season, sought out fair trade coffee and tea products, and made efforts to serve Rainforest Alliance bananas. “Unfortunately, things like processed chicken fingers are high in demand,” Osborn pointed out, this makes the move to healthier, more sustainable food options challenging.

During the event, members of Real Food Challenge sorted waste into three different trash bins for edible food, non-edible food, and napkins or cups. “The amount of food that we waste every year is pretty difficult to conceptualize,” said Krieger.  Hamilton students use 21,000 paper cups per week on average. “If you’re eating ice cream in the dining hall, please use a bowl,” Osborn said. “Many paper cups are used to take food on the way out. Consider bringing Tupperware around with you.”

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