Culinary Services works to decrease food waste


Before you think about grabbing a second bowl of cereal at the cafeteria, MSU dining officials want you to make sure you’re hungry enough to finish it.

MSU Culinary Services officials are conducting a food waste study campaign this semester to show how much food is wasted after each meal and what could be done to reduce such waste.

“What you take is what you should eat,” said Carla Iansiti, MSU Culinary Services sustainability officer.

“The price of food is going up, the price of labor is going up … We have geared our program to try to be more sustainable.”

Yakeley’s dining hall first was chosen for the post-consumer waste study on Tuesday, and after all the waste was counted from the day, Iansiti said the amount wasted per person was about 2.3 ounces — about the amount of two handfuls of peanuts.

Although a similar study was done in fall 2010, it is difficult to compare the two because scales now are being used to measure each plate per person, she said. Last year, all the waste was put into a bag and measured.

“This will be our first actual benchmarking year to establish some data,” Iansiti said, adding smaller portions are key to reducing waste.

Landon’s facility is next to be studied during the lunch and dinner rush on Wednesday, and studies at cafeterias in other neighborhoods also are upcoming.

In addition to pushing sustainable practices, Iansiti said measuring food waste and promoting smaller portions feeds into healthy eating.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure students are healthy,” she said.

“We want them to realize they have a responsibility, too.”

And some students are becoming more aware of just that.

“I do think about food waste,” said Caitlyn Krause, a Residential College in the Arts and Humanities freshman.

“Just be conscience of what you’re throwing away.”

Some have proposed going trayless to reduce food waste, but Iansiti said such an option is not feasible given the scope of MSU’s dining services and customer demand — about 30,000 meals are served each day on campus.

In April 2009, The New York Times reported a Rochester Institute of Technology official said the university saw a drop in food waste and saved 10 percent on food spending costs from going trayless, but only about 6,800 students live on campus, according to the school’s website.

Yakeley Hall dining is the only trayless facility on campus.

Shaw Hall’s facility will reopen with new renovations next spring and also is slated to be a trayless facility, Iansiti said.

The latest study from Culinary Services is a continuation of sustainability practice programs across the university, said Diane Barker, Campus Living Services and Residential and Hospitality Services assistant director for sustainability.

“We’re currently in the infancy with our food waste program,” she said. “We’re just getting started.

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