Fighting Against Waste and Hunger

Fighting Against Waste and Hunger

written by: Bobbie Moore '20


The Graceland Sustainability team is beyond excited to be working with the Campus Kitchens Project to bring a Campus Kitchen to our university. You might have heard about it recently when we were voting to get a grant. If you haven’t heard yet, it is pretty simple: the unused food from our [food service] will be able to be used and given to those who need it. I mean, there are some more logistics that go into it, but that is the big picture from this project.

On their website they state that “CKP is empowering the next generation of leaders to implement innovative models for combating hunger, developing food systems and helping communities help themselves.” They have high schools, colleges and universities that have implemented campus kitchens around the country. Many people struggle with hunger and the Campus Kitchens Project is just one of many services working toward hunger relief.

Although each Campus Kitchen can vary in the way their mission is carried out, a common goal is shared, and that is to recycle food and provide meals. What is really cool about these Campus Kitchens is that they are run by students and volunteers and are creating more sustainable approaches to campus food. Many food services end up with a lot of wasted food, and some of it is perfectly fine but was never put out because there was more food made than what was eaten. They state, “The Campus Kitchen model is based on a few resources available in any community: donated food, shared kitchen space and students who want to make a difference.”

Our whole team and program is super excited for this project to become a reality, but it was spearheaded by Jerome Reimers and Tabitha Watson, two sustainability student workers, as well as Dan Platt, a Professor of English at Graceland University. They have already worked very hard on multiple steps for this project, including a video submission.

They created a video, telling how we could benefit from a Campus Kitchen to be voted on for a grant. After the video went up, we shared it like crazy telling everyone we knew, and we ended up getting the grant! The Campus Kitchens Project was so generous that they gave each of the three schools a grant. Jerome, Tabitha and Dan have been a great team and will continue to play a vital role in coordinating this project and setting it into motion.

With some help, we were able to conduct some research in the Commons on campus. We wanted to see how much food was wasted in a day on campus. We didn’t just see how much prepared food wasn’t used, but also how much food was thrown away after it was served. We had a station set up to take students’ plates during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Throughout the whole day, 811 students were served food. If we combine the data from each meal together, we ended up with 140.2 pounds of post-consumer food waste, so this was the food that students left on their plates that would be in the trash. Throughout the whole day, 84.7 pounds of prepared food was wasted. This would be the food that was prepared and ready to eat but didn’t make it out to be served, and this is what would be transformed into meals to combat the waste.

Generally speaking, people don’t often think about waste and what they are throwing away, and this leads to a lot of waste and trash. The issues of waste in our society comes in many forms besides food as well. Now, I am not saying you need to contemplate every decision you’ve ever made whenever you throw away a piece of food, but whenever we can take as much food as we want, we often take too much. Lots of campus food services serve food “buffet style” and it is here where students often bite off more than they can chew – quite literally. I believe that this is a big factor in our 140.2 pounds of wasted food from the plates of students.

We can’t wait to have a fully functioning Campus Kitchen as a part of our own campus! I talked to Jerome Reimers, and he told me, “I think I’m most excited for it because it’s an amazing opportunity to shut the door on waste on the local level while generating a positive change around my college and community.”

There are still more steps to take before a Campus Kitchen arrives at Graceland, but hopefully it will be here soon. Not only will this help to reduce the wasted food on our campus, it will give to those in need and educate others on the importance of food waste and hunger relief. Jerome says that he can’t wait to look back on this project in the future and say, “I helped put that into motion!”