UAFS launches food recovery program, tackling food waste and hunger
When food is wasted, meals that could make a difference in the lives of others are lost, impacting food insecure people and the environment.
Food waste accounts for 30-40% of the food supply in the United States. It is also “the largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and represents food that could have helped feed families in need”. according to the United States Food and Drug Administration.
To combat student hunger and reduce food waste, the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith launched a new food recovery program on February 1.
The advantage of the program Dave Stevens Lion Pride Pantry, which serves any student in need of food and non-food items such as school supplies. The Pantry is located inside the UAFS Recreation and Wellness Center.
“We’re going to try to get those meals back and try to make sure they get into the hands of students who can use them,” said Dave Stevens, Dean of Students.
The food recovery program was developed through a partnership between the university and Chartwells, the school’s food service provider.
“Chartwells does everything it can to avoid waste, but … there are occasions when you’re planning an event for 60 people and maybe 45 show up, and you have 15 extra meals,” Stevens said. “What do you do with this food?” »
When meals are left over from on-campus catering events or the dining hall, “our food service provider has agreed to pack the food in boxes and mark them…for the number of servings in the can and also how long the food should be good for,” he said.
Student volunteers will bring meals to the pantry fridge, where other students can pick them up. The university also plans to distribute meals to additional on-campus refrigerators in study halls, the writing lab and other locations.
“We’ve done some of these things in the past, and it’s been very successful,” Stevens said.
The university will share information about the food recovery program with students through social media and possibly a text messaging service where students can sign up to receive notifications.
Ultimately, the new program will be another way for the university to contribute to student well-being and success.
“They may be food insecure,” Stevens said. “They may have just forgotten their lunch for the day, but having a full stomach allows you to concentrate and hopefully do better in class. That’s what we’re looking for.