In an attempt to reduce food waste at the buffet-style Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria, Sodexo employees have implemented a number of systems to discourage students from loading their plates with more food than they can handle.
“Waste has always been an issue,” said Andrew Lebo, the area marketing coordinator for Sodexo and a Temple alumnus. “There will always be food waste, but we want to get it as low as possible.”
One effort is the implementation of “Trayless Tuesday.” On these days, Sodexo removes trays to discourage food waste that day.
“We try to promote ‘Trayless Tuesday’ about once a semester,” Lebo said, adding that the policy was unlikely to be implemented on a long-term basis.
“The way that J&H is set up, it’s not conducive to be absolutely trayless,” Lebo said.
In 2011, Temple held the “Weigh Your Waste” event that aimed to raise awareness of how much food is wasted in one day at Temple. In one day, the amount of waste reached 953 pounds. The next year, the weight was slightly lower, hitting 922 pounds. Lebo said these numbers are “absolutely outrageous.”
In an effort to reduce food waste, Sodexo has partnered with The Philadelphia Urban Creators. J&H sends waste from the dining halls to PUC to be composted.
In addition, Temple student Nadia Ouazzi prompted a food donation program through a partnership with the local Boys and Girls Club. The organization comes by weekly to pick up food that has been untouched and saved by staff.
Although this program has only been implemented in the food court in the Student Center and at the Diamond Club, Lebo said Sodexo hopes to expand the program to J&H and the new food courts in Morgan Hall.
“It comes down to the students,” Lebo said. “How much food do they want to take? We try to tell students that you can always go back for seconds. Their eyes are bigger than their stomachs.”
Sophomore media & communications major Lindsey Adams said waste sometimes comes from more than students’ over-indulgence.
“A lot of food is definitely wasted here,” Adams said. “I try to take what I need, what I end up throwing out is food that I didn’t like,” Adams said.
Freshman Simon Mathews said waste “depends on the student. I usually have to go back for more.”
Freshman Kyle Callahan said “Trayless Tuesday” could “reduce waste, but also piss a lot of people off.”
Lebo said the burden of reducing waste lies with students working with their peers.
“All of it comes back to education,” Lebo said. “We always try to get student-volunteers because when we have students educating students, it’s perceived a little differently.”
Kaley Maltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.