Waste not, want not
Sodexo campaigns to raise awareness about food waste on and off campus
Sodexo is refining methods to reduce food waste in dining facilities around Liberty University’s campus, such as the Reber Thomas Dining Hall.
With an operation as big as Liberty Dining Services, a lot of food is wasted daily.
Sodexo is making efforts to encourage students to stop wasting so much food, while they are also finding ways of putting excess food to good use.
One way Sodexo is using wasted food is through the Morris Campus Farm.
Sodexo marketing specialist, Ryan Wheeler said Sodexo sends scraps from food preparation to the campus farm for compost to use as fertilizer.
“On our side, we try to repurpose a lot of food waste that comes out, so that way it doesn’t have to go into some big landfill, but it’s going back into the earth,” Wheeler said.
According to Wheeler, another step Sodexo has taken to reduce waste is by annually celebrating Earth Day at the dining halls in May.
During the event, workers take unfinished plates right off of the dish return and showcase them in the dining hall to show how much food is being thrown away.
“A lot of these are full meals that haven’t even been touched by students,” Wheeler said.
“We use that day to showcase how we as a whole can get better at using our footprint on earth and being better with food waste and … not taking things for granted.”
Sodexo is also encouraging students to form different habits while dining to avoid having to throw away as much food while dining.
“If you’ve been in the dining hall recently, there’s that mural above the (dish) return area,” Wheeler said.
“It has some of our food facts about the Reber Thomas Dining Hall.”
The mural highlights food waste statistics in the Reber Thomas Dining Hall, saying five pounds of French fries and cereal are wasted daily due to spillage.
“Even though it is the dining hall and it’s ‘all you care to eat,’ we want to encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle,” Wheeler said.
“One thing we’ve suggested is take smaller portions.”
Sodexo is also advising students to wait 10 to 20 minutes before grabbing another plate of food.
“It really takes 10 to 20 minutes before your body catches up with your brain,” Wheeler said.
“Just wait 10 minutes before you go get that second plate.”
Sodexo District Manager Anthony Delligatti said waste situations have improved since Sodexo introduced the Freedom Dining plan, which allows students to enter the dining hall hourly.
“Students are getting better in the amount of food that they’re not consuming because they’re able to come back every hour,” Delligatti said.
To benefit those in need in the city of Lynchburg, Sodexo donates much of the unused food to the local soup kitchen, Lynchburg Daily Bread.
“If it’s a product that (Daily Bread) can cool and then reuse, they’ll do that,” Delligatti said.
“Otherwise, what they’ll do is they’ll call Lynchburg Daily Bread for pickups.”
According to Lynchburg Daily Bread Executive Director Tracey Dixon, the organization serves 50,000 to 55,000 meals per year.
“Daily Bread has been around for 30 years, and it’s really a win-win,” Dixon said.
“We’re helping grocery stores and colleges reduce their landfill fees, and we’re getting great food to people who are in need.”
According to Dixon, all the food that Lynchburg Daily Bread serves is donated by various organizations around Lynchburg.
“We are seeing more families come in for help, and I think in our community, situations are getting tougher on the working poor,” Dixon said.
“Many of our guests are actually working, but just struggling to make ends meet, so it’s great that people are bringing their children in and getting the help that they need.”
According to Dixon, awareness of food waste and hunger has increased in recent years.
“I believe that food waste and hunger are rising on the radar, and I’m really glad for that because the USA is a country with so much extra food available that there’s no reason anyone should go hungry,” Dixon said.
“We just have to figure out the systems to get it from one place to the other and get the food to people who need it.”
Wheeler said in recent years students seem more aware of food waste and are willing to do something about it.
“I would say they’re much more interested this year than prior years about how to be better stewards in all aspects of their life, and I think that carries over into food as well,” Wheeler said.
Despite the rising awareness, students need to change their habits to fully benefit the community, according to Wheeler.
“If students really took it to heart to do smaller portions and wait that time limit, I think we would see a lot of change happen in the dining hall,” Wheeler said.
PANYARD is a news reporter.