College Green

Exploring environmental news in Southeast Ohio

Nelson food audit shows student waste habits have not changed

Posted by collegegreenou on October 9, 2009

By Gabriel Weinstein
College Green News Staff

Results released yesterday from the Office of Sustainability’s food audit of Nelson Dining Hall showed that students were less likely to waste food at that eatery than at Jefferson Dining Hall, the site of the office’s first food audit in January and February 2008.

The Nelson audit found that students threw away between 4.68 and 5.54 ounces of food per meal. At Jefferson Dining Hall, students threw away between 4.52 and 6.29 ounces.

Officials announced the results during a themed dinner at Nelson last night. Office of Sustainability employees and members of the Green Network, a group of OU students and employees who promote environmental awareness, were at Nelson attempting to increase waste consciousness by distributing prizes to students who “cleaned” their plates. They also passed out surveys about students’ waste habits and preferences for locally grown food.

Although the amount of wasted food was lower for Nelson, organizers said the differences between the audits are due to how the eateries are organized. OU Sustainability Coordinator Sonia Marcus cited several reasons for the differences between the audits.

“In Jefferson there are more self service options where students can serve themselves bigger portions they can’t eat,” Marcus said.“In Nelson there aren’t as many self-serve options.”

During the food audit at Jefferson, organizers removed dining hall trays to measure the trays’ effect on food waste. Although removing the trays caused students to throw away less food, the Nelson audit did not feature a  “no-tray day” because of “logistical problems,” Office of Sustainability staff member Lori Gromen said. “

Although there was no “no-tray day,” dining hall workers offered students sample portions during meals on Tuesday. Student food waste was lowest when dining hall workers offered sample sizes, according to the official results.

Officials at the Office of Sustainability said they hope the audit results can be used to reduce food waste and provide better food at the university.

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