Food waste is food that goes uneaten and is discarded. Roughly 40 percent of all food in the United States never makes it to a plate before it is tossed, according to a Feb. 2015 article by National Public Radio (NPR). Yet 1 in 6 Americans go hungry.
Lorain County Community College’s dining services has a system that limits as much food waste as possible.
“We plan on using all the food that we receive,” said Rebecca Mcneal, food service coordinator at LCCC. “We try to avoid having anything left. Our main go-to is to make soups out of our leftovers.”
McNeal said that they also implemented saute on fridays to help prevent waste.
“Saute is a great way to bring together food from prior days and prevent waste,” said McNeal.
The average college student generates about 142 pounds of food waste per year, according to Recycling Works, a Massachusetts program designed to help institutions expand recycling, reuse, and composting opportunities.
However, there are certain items that lend themselves to waste, McNeal explained.
“Pizza, from our early college section, is something that we throw away,” said McNeal. “There just is not anything you can do with the pizza after the initial meal.”
Dairy products also have to be tossed, McNeal added.
“The same goes for items like milk and yogurt,” said McNeal. “Those items expire so we need to throw them away after a certain time.”
College campuses throw away a total of 22 million pounds of uneaten food each year, according to a Feb. 2015 article on npr.org. This is a significant portion of the 35 million tons of food wasted in the U.S. in 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found.
LCCC does its best to limit waste, according to LCCC executive chef Chase Wilcox.
“I try to limit the waste to the best of my ability,” said Wilcox. “What we do end up throwing away is very little. Throwing something away is unavoidable. You are not always going to get 100 percent yield, but we try to be as efficient as possible.”
Similar rules apply for grilled items, McNeal said. Only the items that will be used are pulled to limit excess.
“We like to meet what we use,” said McNeal. “A good general rule is that we would rather use up as opposed to throw away. It is better to run out of food, because would could easily throw something on the grill or whatever the case is.”
McNeal said that the Grab-and-Go station is another area that can produce food waste, due to the fact that the items are made earlier in the week.
“We waste maybe $20 worth of food a week which is very good,” said McNeal. “The ultimate goal, however, is make sure we were safe products for the students. We don’t go to such an extreme that would have us serve unsafe food.”
McNeal said that the staff ultimately does a great job at preventing waste.
“We have a great group in the back,” said McNeal. “If we used green peppers early in the week, then they are able to utilize that to make green pepper soup. We cross utilize as much as possible.”
Kristin Hohman also contributed to this story.