Posted by Jamie
Written by John Cummins, General Manager of Resident Dining, Bucknell University
In October of 2012, food waste author Jonathan Bloom came to Bucknell University. He had written a book and has a very active blog about reducing food waste. I wasn’t sure what his plan for this visit was but, when I found out he was coming, I was extremely excited! His bio, as published on campus, read:
Jonathan Bloom, Bucknell University O.V.W. Hawkins Expert-in-Residence, is a journalist and food waste expert. He is the author of a book, American Wasteland (Da Capo Press 2010) and the blog Wasted Food. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Newsweek, among others. The Boston native now lives in Durham, NC, with his family and many, many containers for leftovers.
In advance of his visit, I read Mr. Bloom’s book and reviewed his blog and discovered that he is a very intelligent and altruistic writer. It seemed that raising awareness and offering ideas about reducing food waste was his passion.
I met with Bucknell’s Dean of Students, Susan Lantz, and Mr. Bloom to discuss how he could interact with Dining and really have an impact. Mr. Bloom was residing at Bucknell for a one week; visiting environmentally-focused classes, speaking with students and lecturing. After a tour of our facilities and a review of the many sustainability efforts dining services had made, we decided that working toward the reduction of consumer waste would have the most impact.
We concluded that conducting a public Waste Weigh was a great awareness raising initiative. We would have all plate waste scraped by guests into a large clear container and weighed. This would create a baseline amount of the food waste from a given meal.
Mr. Bloom and Professor Nancy White (whose groundbreaking class ‘Mindful Consumption’ hosted Mr. Bloom) challenged her students to create posters evoking reduction of food waste concepts. Our plan became to hold a Waste Weigh at lunch on a Friday and then publish the findings. After that, Dr. White’s class posters would be placed through the facility to raise awareness. The long range plan was to hold several Waste Weighs a year to keep the concept of food waste awareness on the minds of guests.
At lunch on October 12, we held our first Waste Weigh. Our guests scraped their plates into a large clear bin on our antique green scale in a very public display. Over a 2 hour meal period, 1,017 guests scraped 93 lbs. of food! I thought there would be much greater volume so I was pleasantly surprised. There is always room for improvement but for now our baseline has been set.
Dr. White’s student posters turned out to be very evocative and they are now framed and posted all around our serving line.
We plan to hold another Waste Weigh in late April 2013. Much conversation has been generated by the Weigh and the posters. It was a pleasure to host Mr. Bloom and we look forward to more adventures in Food Waste Reduction with him in the coming months and years.
ADDENDUM- Jonathan Bloom did indeed return in the spring of 2013! The results: 917 guests and 55 pounds of waste. 1 oz. per guest or a reduction of 33%, which we think is fantastic! Check out Jonathan’s blog, www.wastedfood.com .