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Wiping out Waste

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Katie Grassle    
Rewrite of Paper 3
Wiping out Waste
As college students, we are faced with more responsibility than we are used to. Rather than relying on a parent to make a nutritious meal, we must make our own meal decisions based on many different food choices in the dining halls at Bryn Mawr. We can choose to have pizza and a piece of cake with soda, or we can have a bowl of soup with salad and a glass of milk. Either way, these are choices that directly impact us. What about the decisions that impact the rest of campus, or even the rest of the world? Food waste is an issue that many we do not realize we are the cause of. It is easy to blame others for food waste, or think that it is too big of a problem to be fixed by changing individual food choices. The truth is, small choices made by individuals can have a large impact, especially when it comes to food waste. 
            As a worker in Haffner Dining Hall, I must throw away stacks of pizza and lunchmeat at the end of the night. At first, I directed my anger towards the dining hall itself. Why is so much pizza made and is so much meat available if it is thrown out at the end of the night? I realized, however, that the dining hall is simply trying to cater to our needs. The real waste of food occurs after the students have taken the food that they believe they want to eat. I have watched students pile food onto their trays and then throw away half of their food because they are not hungry. I admit, I have done this as well and have watched many of my friends do this during lunch or dinner. The problem is that students are not aware that this creates so much waste, and this obliviousness can be changed if students are made more aware of the waste that accumulates in the dining hall. 
            The BMC Greens and The Sustainable Food Committee are trying to spread this awareness. On December eighth, these clubs asked that students throw their food waste into a garbage can that was on a scale by the accumulator. The next day, trays were taken out of the dining hall and food waste was weighed again (Chung-Templeton). Although it has not been revealed whether students wasted more food when trays were available, I did notice during dinner on Tuesday night that seventy-two pounds of food had been wasted that day, and this was only done in Erdman. This scale makes us actually think about and see how much food everyone wastes as a whole, not just on an individual scale. It created an awareness that a small amount of waste from every student can add up to quite a lot.  Bernie Chung-Templeton, one of the heads of Bryn Mawr Dining Services, said that more data will be collected before trays are eliminated from the dining halls. 
            Bryn Mawr’s Dining Services are making an effort to decrease food waste through its affiliation with the food bank Philabundance. Bryn Mawr donates milk, bread, cheese, fresh fruits, and vegetables right before long breaks. These foods would otherwise spoil during fall or winter break (Chung-Templeton). Before donating to an outside source, however, food is donated to other areas on campus such as Uncommon Grounds or Wyndham (Chung-Templeton). 
            Food transfer to other food areas on campus is motivated by good intentions, but how much waste does this really prevent? Food waste inevitably occurs in these other food places, so wouldn’t transferring more food to these places increase food waste? Donating to Philabundance in the first place may have the best impact on the community as a whole. Although Bryn Mawr has spent money on this food, it will not benefit anyone if it goes to waste. Donating directly to Philabundance would result in less waste and help people in need. 
            Philabundance’s program gives food to people in need and also nourishes people who have been faced with natural disaster (such as victims of Hurrican Katrina) (“How we Work”). Although they receive a lot of food through food drives and donations, Philabundance heavily relies on the food industries for donations (“How we Work”).
            It is easy for us to blame dining services for the food that is wasted in the dining hall, but it is harder to reflect on ourselves and realize we are the cause of the problem. The dining halls are simply trying to cater to our wants and needs, and try to waste as little food as possible. Blaming other institutions rather than ourselves occurs in many other world problems. For example, pollution on a grand scale is often seen as the fault of large companies. This pollution, however, is encouraged by the decisions we make as cosumers. When we support an institution, we are also supporting their bad habits. We can continue to live obliviously, or we can choose to investigate and change what concerns us. I am happy to see that Bryn Mawr students and dining services are attempting to address the problem of food waste and making others aware of the problem.   
Work Cited
Chung-Templeton, Bernie. Email Exchange with Head of Dining Services. 14
            December, 2009.   
“How we Work”. 14 December, 2009.