Root-to-stem eating and a reduction of food waste will be defining factors at Buffalo State College’s dining halls this semester. The ball started rolling this past spring semester, when the dining team partnered with the student life office to address not just the environmental effects of food waste, but the social impact as well.
“We really started to get an understanding of the food insecurity problem right here on campus,” says Glenn Bucello, resident district manager with Chartwells.
So toward the end of the spring semester, Chartwells matched students’ extra meal swipes with donations to Milligan’s Food Pantry, a donation center for food insecure students in the Student Life office.
A huge amount of food was donated—252 jars of pasta sauce, 256 pounds of penne pasta and more.
That meal swipe donation drive led to Bucello and the culinary team to take a look at the waste that happens in the dining halls.
“Proper nutrition is so important for a student to be successful, and we wanted to help with that,” Bucello says. “This, in turn, opened our eyes to the food waste in our dining halls with respect to unconsumed food and in our kitchens as well.”
Compass Group’s Waste Not program has assisted kitchen staff in tracking waste daily by station in terms of production waste, prep waste and shelf life waste.
“This allows us to zero in on our opportunities quicker and make the necessary changes,” Bucello says.
Campus chefs have been developing zero-waste, vegetable-centric recipes that use most or all of each vegetable. Training for kitchen staff will focus on food waste and, of course, all the progress will be tracked.
Another outcome of the meal swipe donation drive was a spike in other donations to the pantry because of raised awareness. The marketing piece of food waste reduction is taken seriously at Buffalo State. Bucello sees it as an opportunity to empower more students to try and make a difference.
“We’re pursuing our goal by educating our students on how everyone can make a difference…the power of one,” Bucello says. “We will market and communicate our root-to-stem recipes not only in our dining halls, but in a new teaching kitchen program we’re launching this year.”
The teaching kitchen will pair groups of students with a chef who will not just teach them to cook, but will also teach them to be smart about food waste.
In addition, Bucello and Kristen Helling, assistant director of Student Life, did a segment on the campus radio station on surprising food waste facts and numbers.
Now, they’re looking ahead to the start of the new school year.
“We’re expecting a great reduction in our food waste this year on campus and we expect to raise the awareness on our campus,” Bucello says.