By: Katelyn Melder
At the spring 2019 Going Green Dinner, hosted by KU Dining Services, students generated 433 pounds of waste. In response, campus dining services are taking measures to reduce food and beverage waste, but students can also take their own steps towards being more waste-conscious at the dining halls.
Within the first two weeks of classes, dining services set a limit as to how many products a student can order in downstairs South Dining Hall. With students now only able to order two items at a time, the facility aims to “eliminate” food waste. Students can also be seen walking around with new, eco-friendly takeout containers and utensils from Cub Cafe.
KU isn’t the only university to make a move towards sustainability. Millersville University implements sustainability practices by purchasing products from local farmers, vendors and distributors, having a reusable mug program and recycling products at each of their dining halls.
Bloomsburg University has similar practices to Millersville, and, according to Shippensburg University’s website, their dining services take it a step further by volunteering at the campus community garden and using solar power panels to heat hot water for their dishwashers.
According to the KU Dining Services Campus Dish website, KU practices sustainability by purchasing locally-sourced foods, recycling 100% of used fryer oil and having trayless dining.
Aside from these steps, students can consider these three ideas while eating at the dining halls on campus:
1. Only take what you can drink and eat.
Statistics from KU’s Going Green Dinner showed beverages made up 34% of all wasted material while food made up 55%. The notion of “only take what you can eat” is simple in concept; by taking less food, an individual will no longer be throwing away excess food. This mindset, however, takes awareness and thought.
To make this possible, keep in mind that dining services have measurement spoons as scoops. The amount of food you initially take or are given, by default, is the portion size for that item. Take the portion and go back later if needed, and the same concept applies to beverages.
2. Only take food out from Cub Cafe if necessary.
Cub Cafe takeout makes a busy schedule even just a little bit easier to handle. Students have the option to pile any food they can into their disposable food containers and take it back to the dorms, library, work or elsewhere on or off campus.
Even though dining services has replaced their original styrofoam food containers and plasticware with new, semi-eco-friendly utensils and food carriers, making these products still require the use of materials, machinery and electricity. A simple solution would be to only take food out when it’s actually required of a busy schedule.
3. Stick with MTO and start small with new foods.
The South Dining Hall and Cub Cafe all-you-can-eat buffets have several options, ranging from vegan and vegetarian alternatives to traditional American meals including burgers and hot dogs. Having options has allowed students to experiment with new foods, eat what they know they like and pile any amount they choose onto their plates.
The issue of food waste comes to light when people take large amounts of food they’re unfamiliar with or end up not liking and put it through the dish room where it’s thrown out. Through picking made-to-order food options that students know they will enjoy or even taking small amounts of those food options can help combat food waste in the dining halls.