Loyola kicked off its annual Waste Week on Feb. 20 with Food Waste Frenzy, hosted by a partnership of groups — the Growers’ Guild, Student Environmental Alliance and the Food Recovery Network Loyola.
Waste Week takes place during RecycleMania, which is a national competition between colleges and universities to measure and compare waste reduction. Loyola has competed in RecycleMania since 2009 and ranked 14th nationally in 2016 for waste minimization with 21.7 pounds per student.
Food waste includes uneaten food and leftovers from food preparation and comes from both residences and commercial establishments such as grocery stores, restaurants, produce stands, cafeterias and kitchens, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The event included catered food by local restaurants, an informational video about food waste and discussion on how to solve the problem of food waste.
The purpose of the Food Waste Frenzy wasn’t only to inform people about food waste, but to also highlight food waste as an economic and environmental issue, according to Christie Kochis, president of LUC Student Environmental Alliance, a student group focused on environmental issues.
“Gaining an awareness of the environmental justice components to food waste [and] food insecurity … was an outcome all three organizations wanted from this event,” Kochis said.
There is an estimated 70 billion pounds of food waste in the United States each year and 25 to 40 percent of food grown, processed and transported in the United States will never be consumed, according to Feeding America, an organization that works to eradicate hunger.
The Food Recovery Network Loyola is an on-campus organization that helps recover food so it doesn’t go to waste. Since becoming a registered student organization last semester, they have recovered more than 2,220 pounds of food.
Kochis gave tips for students to reduce their individual food waste which include not overfilling a plate, composting and eating from local sources like farmer’s markets.
“I’m a sustainability intern here on campus and we do waste collection periods at the dining halls and we would see people just dump huge pounds of foods into the compost bin,” said the business management and environmental studies double major. “It’s often composted behind the scenes, but it’s more about the concept that just because there’s a lot in front of you doesn’t mean it’s a great thing.”