A look behind leftovers: food waste facts

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Mercedes Lebron -- Students selecting more food than they can consume contributes to campus food waste.

With today’s economic woes and the increase in food costs, many families, schools and businesses are looking for ways to reduce the amount of food waste by cooking less, reusing leftovers or giving leftovers to those in need.

California Baptist University’s food services provider does just that – reduce, reuse and recycle food.

The Alumni Dining Commons and Brisco’s Cafe have ways to help reduce the amount of food wasted on the campus.

“Most of the wasted food is by the customer [students and guests],” Kipp Dougherty, director of food services, said. “With so many options, customers tend to put more on their tray than they end up being able to eat.”

About two years ago, Provider Food Services and the Associated Students of California Baptist University partnered and created Waste Awareness Day, which helped students become mindful of how much food they waste. The end result was around 600 pounds of wasted food at a single meal period.

Dougherty and Provider Food Services have reduced the amount of food wasted on campus by cooking the food as the day goes on, which is also known as the just in time (JIT) technique. CBU hosts many events such as homecoming and spring preview days. When asked if more food than usual must be prepared for these events, Dougherty said, “Most food is cooked using JIT.”

The food cooked in the various campus food locations for breakfast, lunch and dinner is also cooked fresh, which helps reduce the production of mass amounts of uneaten food. The prepared and cooked food that is placed out in the serving lines is not reused if the quality is reduced by being held in the hot service table. This includes scrambled eggs and cooked vegetables; however, the food prepared and cooked in the back kitchen and is not placed out in front will be saved and reused.

Provider recycles the leftover food by reusing it in many different recipes. For example, if the ADC has leftover chicken from the previous night, they can make and add chicken salad to the menu served for dinner the next day.

“This is one way we help reduce food waste,” Dougherty said. “It is similar to how you would use leftovers at

home just on a much bigger scale.”

Jessica Pitzek, freshman, likes the idea of recycling food into different recipes.

“If you add the leftover food into other recipes, it makes the recipe that much better,” Pitzek said.

Not only does Provider reuse food to reduce food waste, they also occasionally donate the extra leftovers, especially if they are deemed “edible but unservable.”

It is a simple concept that minimizes food waste. The food that gets donated can still be eaten but is not necessarily appealing in presentation. The food may either be dried out or a bit overcooked, which isn’t considered presentable but is still completely edible.

In the past, there was a student group that donated this food to a local charity or organization; however, the on-campus group organized to deliver it is no longer able to do so.

“It was challenging to get a consistent commitment from participants because of the competing priorities of school, school activities, etc.” Dougherty said.

The group used to pick up the packaged leftovers from the ADC and Brisco’s, starting with a pick-up schedule of twice a week, which then turned into once a week and then stopped completely.

“I would definitely be interested in helping with a program to deliver the extra food to people in need of it,” Pitzek said. She also believes giving the food away is more important than reusing it for our ourselves, “because there are a lot of people in America who are starving.”

Doughtery wants to partner with the campus to develop a program which organizes a group of students to voluntarily pick up edible but unservable packaged food at least once a week, deliver it to a CBU-coordinated, designated local charity or organization and start something that other students want to join.

Interested students can email Dougherty at kdougherty@calbaptist.edu.

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