Posted: April 26, 2017 at 7:42 pm

By Alexa Ciattarelli, Kyle Monroe and Andrew Perez

Forty percent of food generated in the United States goes to waste, according to a National Resources Defense Council report. With West Virginia University being the life-blood of West Virginia, the school plays a role in the state’s food waste.

However, the WVU Dining Services Waste Audit Report Spring Semester, 2017 was just released and the results are promising. Per the audit, WVU Dining has achieved a 15% reduction (from 2012) in the amount of waste generated per meal across its five residence dining centers.

According to Bryan Jarrell, the manager of public relations for WVU dining services, the decrease in waste can be mainly attributed to two changes.

Firstly, dining services did away with trays at Café Evansdale, the largest cafeteria on campus. This stopped students from over portioning. WVU also stopped using batch cooking which estimates the number of customers off past data. Instead they introduced grill and deli made-to-order stations.

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Jarrell said the changes were effective and upped kitchen efficiency 26 percent. While dining services is improving its numbers, it also was able to decrease compostable waste from 5.8 ounces to 1.6 ounces (70 percent). Jarrell said he likes helping out the unfortunate, but the ultimate goal is to completely eliminate food waste.

“Our main concern is being better stewards of students’ finances. We do enjoy partnering with Christian Help and other organizations to help recover waste,” Jarrell said, “However, our goal is to have no waste and build that cost back into student dining plans.”

Even with the increased efforts, there will inevitably still be food leftover. While there is still waste to be claimed and repurposed, this is where the Food Recovery Network comes in.

The Food Recovery Network partners with WVU dining services, and other organizations in the community, to recover food that would otherwise become waste. They then transport these donations to receiving charities such as the Bartlett House, the Rosenbaum House, and the Ronald McDonald House.

This WVU student organization was established in 2014 and consists of approximately 24 active members. The Food Recovery Network does not only help alleviate food waste, but educates others on the food insecurity in the Greater Morgantown Area.

The Food Recovery Network takes the food waste problem along with the food insecurity problem in the community and tries to be the middle-man as a solution. According to Food Recovery Network WVU co-founder Hilary Kinney, food waste is a top component in landfills and is a huge problem.

“We’re trying to make dining halls and restaurants more sustainable and at the same time feed people who are in need,” Kinney said.

The Food Recovery Network was recently named WVU student organization of the year. They collect the most both from Summit Café (30-120 pounds) and Round Right farm on a bi-weekly basis.

Some other organizations that the Food Recovery Network collects from are Phoenix Bakery, Martin’s Bar B Que, the Evansdale Crossing, and special events in the Mountainlair.

The next step for the Food Recovery Network is to start a composting component to the organization. They are working with the Grind coffee shop and Conscious Harvest Co-op to start a pilot project to present to the university over the summer. Kinney said that the goal is to have the pilot manifest to a larger scale and be phased into the dining hall during the next school year.