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March 29, 2001 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-29

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8B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend, etc. Magazine - Thursday, March 29, 2001

Food Waste
In Dining Halls
By Abby Rosenbaum
When asked to comment on dorm food, most
University students will likely gripe about the taste or
the monotony of entrees offered. Rarely do we think
about the amount of food that gets thrown away each
day, or the ecological and financial consequences of
this waste.
Every day, University of Michigan students
throw away 3,160 pounds of food. Over the course of
four days, this amounts to 11,000 pounds roughly
the weight of an elephant! Students pay $1.40 per
pound of food, which means that over the course of an
academic year, over $1 million are wasted. This is a
staggering amount of money that could be used for
many other purposes: Offering more organic foods, a
larger selection of juices and entrees, even lowering
room and board fees.
One of the biggest obstacles towards curbing
food waste is student attitude regarding the issue.
During a recent plate waste study conducted in Mary
Markley Hall, most students displayed apathy or even
hostility when confronted with the amounts of uneaten
food on their trays. Common responses included,
"this food sucks, that's why i'm throwing it away," or,
"I paid for it, I can trash it if I want to." Until students
are able to connect their personal eating habits with the
bigger picture, food waste will likely continue to be a
Another disturbing aspect of this problem is the
fact that Dining Services actually throws away nearly
as much food as students do. An obscure audit finding
forbids the donation of unused food. Technically, the
food is the property of students, and therefore not
Dining Services' to donate. What this means is that
food which could be given to organizations is instead
thrown down the garbage disposal. Thankfully, how-
ever, administrators have begun steps to reverse this


Photo courtesy ofmining Services

(Above): These
plates were collect-
ec during a food
w ; ste stu ,dy at one
of the University's
dining halls during
the first week of
December. At this
one meal, 158
pounds of uneaten
food were thrown
(Right): Barbara
Howe, Dining
Services nutrition
specialist, brain-
storms with stu-
dents in an environ-
mental studies class
about ways to dis
courage food Waste:

Photo by Abby RoE

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