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Food Waste Project at PSU

By Sustainability Fellows
On May 7, 2013

To better understand how much food waste is an issue in the Plymouth State University community, the Office of Environmental Sustainability and Sodexo partnered during Earth Week to measure food waste at PSU. Many people may have noticed a change in the way the cafeteria worked this past Wednesday. There were buckets in front of the dish conveyor, and people stationed by them asking everyone to dump their food waste into the buckets.

The food waste sorting was done to determine how much food those using the dining hall on the Plymouth State University campus waste during a regular school day. Generally, for a year, one person will waste 474 pounds of food! (Jackson, Danielle. "Americans Increased Food Waste in 2001." Waste Age 8 Jul., 2002. If our tally is any indication, people here are on the same track.

Throughout the day, there were 2,328 people served meals on our campus in Prospect Hall. There were 323 people for breakfast, 982 people for lunch and 1,023 people for dinner.

The total amount of wasted for the day was 462 pounds!

This ended up being just over 3 ounces of food per person. Just for one day! Prospect Hall is open 210 days a year, which adds up to about 97,000 pounds, or 48.5 tons, of food waste every year from our campus. Just imagine how many people could be fed by what we are throwing away. One last way to think about this amount of food waste is that 97,000 pounds a year is the equivalent of 42 pounds per person each school year! Any way it is described, it is a lot.

Food waste is a very serious issue in the United States and worldwide. Food waste impacts food availability, which is obviously important to those people in the world that go hungry each day, and is also an environmental issue. The food we waste enters landfills and other waste streams and has numerous impacts, including contributing to global warming. For example:

·       America wastes about 40 million tons of food a year (households, retailers and food services) which could feed the one billion malnourished people out in the world

·       10% of greenhouse gas in 1st world countries comes from growing food, which then is never eaten


We hope that people, even those who did not waste anything, realize just how much food went to waste on Wednesday. It is our hope that by creating more awareness of these issues everyone will try and take only what they can eat. As always, if people are still hungry after their first pass through the food service area they just go back for seconds!

We will continue to learn about our food waste on campus, and will work hard to find ways to reduce it. The things we can all do to solve these problems are simple: 1) select food conservatively, taking only what you know you can eat; 2) eat what you take; and 3) Continue to raise awareness of these issues among you r friends and family. This is an issue we can easily address if we simply care enough to do it!

If you have any questions about this food sort or how to limit your waste, contact your Sustainability Fellow, the Office of Environmental Sustainability, or Sodexo. Thanks for doing your part!

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