Students trash tons of food

Val Vita | Collegio Reporter

PSU students are filling their plates and filling the trash.
Todd Wixson, Sodexo general manager, says he thinks 25 percent of the food served at the dining hall gets thrown away. Wixson says the dining hall orders 20,000 pounds of food every week and estimates that roughly 5,000 pounds of it goes straight to the trash.
Wixson says the majority of students who eat at the dining hall are young people who are used to being served a set amount of food at home, and in school.

Photo Illustration by Kaitlyn Doherty

Photo Illustration by Kaitlyn Doherty

“Now, they get to serve themselves with everything they want to eat,” Wixson said. “I think it’s natural for them to let their eyes be bigger than their appetite.”
Wixson says he first analyzed food waste in 2008, when students could use trays in the dining hall. He says that in one day, 1,430 pounds of food was wasted. Sodexo decided to quit using the trays. On the first day without the trays, according to Wixson, only 471 pounds of food was wasted. This means 958 pounds of food was saved, just by eliminating trays. Wixson says this allowed them to save 91,977 pounds per semester and the trays were banished in 2009.
“But we still have significant waste,” Wixson said.
Wixson says he is considering an awareness campaign on food waste, using reminders on the dining hall’s tables or walls.
Victoria McKinnon says she eats lunch and dinner at the dining hall every weekday. She says she gets only as much as she plans to eat and doesn’t usually throw any food away. McKinnon says an exception is if she tries something new and doesn’t like it.
“I don’t really think about waste while I’m eating,” said McKinnon, sophomore in accounting. “I observe some students leaving food behind, but it tends to be a small amount. Generally less than half a plate.”
Jose Pavon says he hardly wastes any food at all.
“If I leave something on the plate, it is just a little, like three or four fries,” said Pavon, student in intensive English.
Fabio Giacomelli says he usually asks a friend or a dining hall employee about the flavor of a particular dish.
“I never leave food on the plate. Why would I pick up the food if I would not eat it?” said Giacomelli, exchange student in biology. “My father taught me this when I was a kid. If there are a lot of people starving, why should I throw my food away?”
Giacomelli says that the waste is not entirely the students’ fault. He says he saw a dining hall employee throwing a quarter of a pizza in the trash a couple days ago, only to replace it with a new one.
“She could have waited five more minutes,” Giacomelli said. “People would have eaten that quarter of pizza.”

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