The first time you walked into the cafeteria at Point Loma Nazarene University, you were probably in awe of an endless supply of nearly everything you probably weren’t allowed to have on a daily basis as a child was suddenly presented to you in abundance: sugary cereal, ice cream, pizza, french fries, soda, etc. But where does the leftover food go?
According to Omid Najian, dining hall manager for PLNU’s restaurant facilities, the school donates its leftovers to the city of San Diego’s rescue mission program.
“This program is designed to compact the leftover food and use it as compost. Having said that, we are pretty good at estimating the quantity of food we need to produce to avoid waste,” Najian said.
Sodexo, the company that caters to PLNU’s dining halls, is part of the USDA’s movement to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030. The department hopes to accomplish this in three ways: prevention, recovery and recycling.
In keeping with the USDA’s Food Loss and Waste activity agreement, the cafeteria only prepares enough food to match the daily needs. This is a preventative measure known as “source reduction.” The quantity of food prepared is estimated by data from a program called WasteWatch.
Each day, the amount of guests dining in the cafeteria is recorded. This has been recorded each day for multiple years now, giving the chefs a good idea of how much food to make throughout the year.
Composting is also listed as a way to help reduce food waste, according to the USDA. Rather than a preventative measure, it recycles wasted food by turning it into nutrient rich soil. This is very beneficial to the environment for a variety of reasons as it is full of nutrients, farmers don’t need to add chemical fertilizers when planting crops. The less chemicals in the earth means less pollutants in our rivers, streams, oceans and water sources.
Jemima Goodson, a freshman graphic design major, was happy to hear the school was making efforts to recycle wasted food.
“I used to work at a camp as one of the prep cooks. We had to make a lot of food in bulk and threw a lot of it away in bulk as well. It’s nice to hear PLNU is doing something positive with leftover food. Composting is really good for the environment,” Goodson said.While campus food services are doing their best to eradicate food waste from PLNU, students and faculty members can come alongside of this effort by serving themselves no more than what can be consumed in one sitting. This helps the dining facilities gather a more precise number in terms of the amount of food they must provide on a daily basis.