Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tendency to waste food is trashy

Signs posted at the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall educate students about the magnitude of food thrown away daily

Hard Facts — The truth is hard to avoid for Liberty students dining at the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall. Photo credit: Gabriella Fuller

Wasting what we have been blessed with is a problem. In the past two weeks, signs posted around the dining hall have served as an alarming eye-opener to how indifferent we have become toward wasting food.

The notices announce a recently-developed initiative by Sodexo aimed to significantly reduce food waste on campus. According to Julie Pfeifer, marketing manager of Liberty Dining Services, Sodexo embarked on a study to research just how much students throw away in order to prove that waste is a steadily increasing issue on Liberty’s campus.

“We were trying to think of a way that we could very tangibly show the students an impact that they could have on campus, so we decided to measure how much food waste they had within the lunch period for five days,”
Pfeifer said.

The results were shocking. For just five days, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., the dining hall alone experienced approximately 1,080 pounds of food waste. Yes, you read that correctly — more than 1,000 pounds of food was discarded in less than four hours.

I am not generally inclined to endorse every call to action made by the environmentalist movement, but in this case, I believe that the facts posted around the dining hall serve as a call to action. Liberty, we can do better.

We have all heard those repetitive phrases calling us to recycle and protect the earth, so it is easy to disregard this topic as nothing more than a soapbox for the supposed far-left agenda of the environmentalist movement.

The truth is that whether you agree with environment preservation or not, we each hold a level of responsibility on this issue. Beyond the prominent political debate concerning this matter, there is a biblical truth of stewardship that ought to resonate with each one of us as Christians.

“Our stance is that it is our responsibility to take care of the environment,” Pfeifer said. “As Christians, we have certain resources that we need to be good stewards of. We were given certain things that we need to be using responsibly and not just assume they’ll always be around for our disposal.”

Now, I know that as students, the world throws about a million things in our direction. Every time we walk through the back hallway of DeMoss, a new program is asking for participation. There are fundraisers, activities, social events — and let us not forget that this is all on top of busy class schedules.

Photo credit: Gabriella Fuller

The solution to waste management is a simple one, though. As I am sure most of your mothers used to tell you, eat what you put on your plate.

Though you may not be single-handedly responsible for the $165 billion of food that the National Resources Defense Council reported goes to waste worldwide each year, you are accountable for your own actions, your own plate. It may not seem like much, but every plate of food contributes to waste.

Here is the good news: you are not in this alone. Sodexo is doing its part to aid students in the process of reducing waste. Beyond placing signs to bring this issue to the forefront of students’ minds, several other proposals exist for the near future.

“There is a discussion of a campus garden, and we’re looking at the possibility of doing a small herb garden next to the dining hall so we can start using those herbs in our actual recipes, and then also composting so that we can actually replenish some of that soil with some of our wasted food,” Pfeifer said.

You can also look forward to the celebration of Earth Day Monday, April 22, when a new program entitled “I Commit” will aim to further involve students in the sustainability effort. Along with these exciting additions to campus, dining services will soon begin offering sample cups at the main dish lines. So if you see something you have never had before, try giving it a taste before you pile it on your plate.

As Americans accustomed to consumerism, our country as a whole lacks in the department of responsible stewardship. In a nation where the majority of concern comes from consuming too many calories, it is clearly evident that we do not want for food.

Imagine the impact, though, that Liberty could have if we decided to get involved amid a society marked by inconsideration.

“I think that if the greater community outside of Lynchburg is starting to catch on that the largest Christian university in the world is doing something about waste minimization and trying to make sure they are taking care of the environment, I think that really says something,” Pfeifer said. “I think we set a good example.”

So what do you say, Liberty? Let us accept the challenge and start making a difference in the world around us.

To find out specific ways to get involved, log on to stopwastingfood.org, a Sodexo website that provides information, statistics and ways to improve our
environment.

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