Waste Not, Want Not with Tiger Dining

Post Contributed by Gwen Ward, Administrative Assistant, Campus Dining

Students can get made to order food at many locations on campus.
Students can get made to order food at many locations on campus.

Let’s imagine…close your eyes and envision yourself seated at a large table sharing a meal with your family and friends.  The banquet table is piled high with mounds of mashed potatoes, large platters filled with an assortment of meats and vegetables, grandma’s famous fruit salad, and a dessert selection without compare.  You’ve eaten your fill, but the table is still laden with delectable fare.  What will happen with all that food?

Now let’s multiply this situation by a thousand.  Tiger Dining faces the challenge of feeding about 20,000 people every class day, and we implement programs along three phases of the food service process to ensure campus food is handled as responsibly as possible.

Food preparation is the first area where Tiger Dining works to minimize waste.  Trim Trax is a food waste reduction program used to track, measure and reduce the amount of food waste in our facilities on campus. By collecting food scraps in measurable containers, operational efficiency increases as food prep workers become more conscious about reducing food waste and its environmental impact.  As an example, coffee grounds from our coffee shops and restaurants are collected in five-gallon buckets which are then donated to a local charity and recycled into a nearby community garden. This not only eliminates food waste and landfill space but also provides vital nutrients to enrich local soil.

Repackaging un-served foods helps Campus Kitchens Project feed hunger community members.
Repackaging un-served foods helps Campus Kitchens Project feed hunger community members.

Serving food is the second area where Tiger Dining works diligently to minimize food waste. Many foods served in Tiger Dining locations are made to order.  Patrons order custom sandwiches and salads, eliminating the need to remove unwanted toppings or condiments.  This reduces a substantial amount of food waste.  Tiger Dining also serves food and drink in biodegradable and eco-friendly containers to help minimize the impact on landfills.

Finally, Tiger Dining is proud to partner with the Campus Kitchens Project to eliminate food waste in the third area of food service.  Food that has been prepared but not served is not thrown away!  This food is placed in containers and refrigerated at the end of each day. Campus Kitchens volunteers collect these containers on a regular basis.  These volunteers then safely store the food, and each week they repackage the food and deliver it to food insecure individuals within our local community.

So the next time you order your salad with extra green peppers but no onions, rest assured that you’re being a responsible consumer by leaving behind those breath-killers you’ll never eat.  And thank you, cause I like extra onions on mine!

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