Are We Throwing Away More Food Than We’re Eating?

Are We Throwing Away More Food Than We’re Eating?

One of the biggest issues facing our time is the exploitation and unequal distribution of resources. Whether it be to healthcare, drinking water, or even just a place to sleep at night, much of the world differs in their access to these basic human necessities.

We Wildcats are lucky to have these necessities, but unfortunately we contribute to this exploitation and inequality. If you take a trip to the dining hall, it is so easy to grab more food than one needs.When we finally fill up, we find ourselves staring at a pile of food that surely is about to go uneaten. Dining frequently studies the amount of food waste produced in a given time period in each of our three dining halls on a regular basis. Most recently, students may have run into two researchers asking that any leftover food scraps be dropped into a large yellow bin. Over the course of eight hours, 350 pounds of food waste was produced. That means every hour, almost 50 pounds of waste was produced; almost the same weight as a small child. This scales up to roughly 25-40 thousand pounds of food waste every month during the academic year.

Thankfully, that food is ground into food pulp and used as compost for compostthe various agricultural sites at UNH. Not only that, all pre-consumer food waste produced when making the meals for our dining halls is composted. All of this food waste, in dining areas all over campus, is put through food-waste pulpers, which break down food waste into small pieces, as well as extracting any liquid so that the waste can compost faster. Our university takes this unfortunately large sum of food waste and is able to repurpose it to make a difference. Our composting program helps create more nutrient-rich, productive soils in our farming systems, as well as reduce the need for fertilizer and pesticides that can potentially hurt surrounding environments.

So why worry about food waste when it’s helping our farms so much? While our composting program is phenomenal, much of the food composted was at one point fit for human consumption. All of the time and energy that went into creating the food was wasted and UNH is trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation; trying their best to make a negative into a positive.

But we are Wildcat, we can’t just let a problem like this persist! We’ve shown time and time again that we will all stand together to reach a common goal. UNH has always been at the forefront of sustainability. Yet upwards of 40% of our food is being thrown away, food that required a lot of time and energy to make it to your plate, only to be thrown out because we took far too much of something we didn’t end up wanting! It’s time to take a stand Wildcats!

UNH Dining has launched a campaign to combat this problem called Take Less, Waste Less.  This simple slogan seeks to shine light on the food wasted in our dining areas. Dining is asking all of UNH, students, faculty, and staff, to keep in mind that we’re fortunate to have such wonderful access to great food, and we need to be more responsible with this good fortune.

dining plateThe easiest thing to do is just take smaller portions of food when visiting the dining halls. Also, you may have noticed those shiny new Wildcat Plates. Not only do they provide Wildcats with an accurate representation of a healthy, balanced meal, but they’re also slightly smaller than most plates in the dining halls. This helps promote taking smaller portions as well as pushing us Wildcats to eat more healthily. Remember, no one is keeping you from going up for seconds. This is especially true if you’re trying something you’re not sure you’d like, but take a small portion first, then you can always go for more later.

Just remember that we as Wildcats are very privileged to have access to such a diverse menu of healthy choices. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world can say the same thing. Not everyone has this unlimited access to food like we do. Keep this in my mind next time you’re on your way to Philly and be responsible with the wonderful opportunity we’re given each and every day. Take smaller portions, know that you can always go for seconds, and let’s change our behavior to be a bit more sustainable! Take Less, Waste Less Wildcats!