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One step forward: Brockport's effort to combat food waste

by The Stylus
Tue, Mar 5th 2019 09:00 pm
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Going Green With over 8,000 students that attend The College at Brockport, food waste is a major issue. The college has set up many different ways to reduce the amount of food waste that is produced each year, but without the help of the students, the efforts of the college can only go so far.

The College at Brockport is adamant about its green and environmentally positive policies, but there can always be more done to support its campus-wide initiatives.

Increasing transportation efficiency, going paperless, recycling bottles and cans, reducing electric use and using solar power are all some of the steps Brockport has taken to make the college more environmentally friendly.

Brockport Auxiliary Service Corporation (BASC) is also doing its part by recycling the kitchen’s fryer oil, contributing to a compost program and eliminating plastic straws in the two dining halls. However, campus food waste can still be reduced.

According to the Food Recovery Network, college campuses as a whole throw out 22 million pounds of uneaten food each year. Each student annually contributes 142 pounds of food waste, according to Recycling Works. 8,243 students attend The College at Brockport and if each student threw out 142 pounds of waste, the college would be removing over 1 million pounds of uneaten food to dispose of elsewhere.

To put a band-aid over a cleaver wound, BASC switched to Suburban Disposal, a waste disposal company that uses natural gas trucks to transport its waste. However, the end product is what should be limited.

Instead of contributing to the release of methane gases from landfills, there are several other eco friendly options for our food waste. One idea is to set a compost garbage next to other disposable bins with a list of what can go in there and what can’t.

Displaying the idea of food waste through posters and various reminders in the dining hall can also intrigue the unconscious mind.

Several colleges, along with Brockport, have gotten involved with a composting service. The Natural Upcycling Compost Program has partnered with Brockport in an effort to turn the college’s inedible food and waste into electricity or natural gas. According to BASC, over 85,000 pounds of waste is composted each year.

Another, more intimate resolution can be through feeding the hungry in the community. The Environmental Protection Agency is an independent agency of the United States federal government for environmental protection. One of its goals has included the reuse of unused food, which in turn lead to the creation of the Food Recovery Hierarchy.

The most valued point in the hierarchy starts with the source’s food reduction. The second highest point of importance is to feed those in need. Brockport uses the last three options on the list; industrial use, composting and dumping it at a landfill or using an incinerator.

Hunger in America has been a prominent and growing epidemic and part of it is due to 30 to 40 percent of the country’s food supply being wasted each year.

In 2017, one in eight Americans were food insecure, equating to 40 million Americans including more than 12 million children, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Economic Research Service. Food insecurity is a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.

Four of the five population demographics that suffer the most from food insecurity make up a large portion of Brockport’s neighboring city of Rochester.

The five groups that have the highest food insecurity rates are African Americans, Latinos, seniors, children and rural communities. Rochester’s diverse population is 41.7 percent African American and 16.4 percent Latino, both with an increasing rate over the past decade.

The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative has also found Rochester’s overall poverty to be third among the nation’s 75 largest metropolitan areas. The number of children living in poverty within the city of Rochester is just over 50 percent.

In America, unless you experience hunger first hand, it’s hard to believe that it’s not just a third world problem.

If one in eight people suffer from food insecurity and Rochester’s poverty rate is third in cities across the nation, it’s safe to say Brockport has community members starving in its own backyard.

The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) has recognized the nationwide issue and looks to solve it. CKP is dedicated to helping “students transform unused food from dining halls, grocery stores, restaurants and farmers’ markets into meals for their community,” according to CKP’s website.

As a DC Central Kitchen program, a Campus Kitchen has been established in 65 different campuses since its inception in 2001. In an effort to fight against world hunger, or local hunger in this case, Brockport should look into a service like CKP.

However, an institution is restricted by its finances and priorities and can only contribute a limited effort towards green initiatives, despite its importance.

As students that make up the Brockport environment and about 99 percent of the food waste, we have the most power to limit waste production. So look with your eyes and not  with your stomach when browsing in the dining halls around campus.

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