Did you ever wonder what happens to Culver’s food waste? There are two main sources of food waste from our Dining Hall. The first source is the scraps from individual plates as well as from the food preparation process; the second source is prepared food that is never eaten. While the Dining staff make every effort to reduce our food waste, some is inevitable when we serve nearly 3,000 meals a day. Over the past 3 years, we have made a valiant effort to compost food waste from the Dining Hall. Due to a number of technical reasons, our compost program just hasn’t worked very well. Before Fall Break, we decided to try a different tack. We now send our food scraps (nearly 1,000 pounds/week) to a nearby dairy farm that operates a methane digester. The methane digester uses organic matter (our food scraps and animal waste) to create methane fuel used to power an electricity generator. Culver’s food scraps now become “green” power!
The second major source of food waste is food that is prepared but never served, think the extra tray of baked ziti. Up until now if extra food isn’t consumed, it has been thrown into the trash. As part of Charles Mahoney’s (CMA ‘18) Service Leadership Project, the Dining Hall team, the Faculty Sustainability Committee and several Culver community members have been working on a better solution for this food. We have acquired a machine that packages food into individual portion containers.
These containers will be labeled and frozen. Once or twice a week, we will deliver the frozen containers to the Culver Food Pantry, the Meals on Wheels program and other organizations in our local community who provide food to people in need. We estimate we will provide up to 40 meals per day once our service is up and running. This “food recovery” program begins this week!
Between these two programs, we are significantly reducing the amount of food waste we send to the landfill while also providing useful community services.