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Florida Southern fights against food waste

Food waste is an important issue not only for the United States but on the Florida Southern College campus as well.

According to Director of Food Services Tim Raible, Florida Southern strives to reduce food waste at the source by creating as little as possible in the first place.

He described the way the college is able to help purveyors cut down on food waste by purchasing products such as seafood in large quantities for lower prices.

“My chef knows how to properly utilize every portion of a fish like [grouper],” Raible said. “We’ll make soups. We’ll make something out of every piece of that.”

He also discussed the way Wynee’s Bistro, in particular, will repurpose ingredients rather than let them go to waste. He gave the example of turning leftover hamburgers from lunch into meatballs for an hors d’oeuvre party later that afternoon.

Senior broadcast, print and online media major Adrianna Cole described the kind of food waste she often sees from students themselves. Rather than offering uneaten food to friends or taking back to their rooms to eat later, students will simply throw their leftovers away.

“You’re wasting resources that a lot of people are dying to have, and a lot of people are dying because they don’t have it,” Cole said. “Not even on campus, but in Lakeland, there are people that are struggling less than a mile away.

A Guardian report estimated that half of all the produce in the U.S. is thrown out. The demand for produce that is not only fresh but also blemish-free leaves vast quantities of fresh produce in the field to rot.

According to Raible, Florida Southern only orders as much food as Guest Services predicts will be necessary for the week. However, with products such as fresh produce, strict quality standards add an extra layer of difficulty in reducing food waste.

“A lot of times, especially with produce, you’ve got to watch them,” Raible said. “If it’s on its way out, I’ll be lucky to get one day out of it.”

The Guardian report described food waste as a “farm-to-fork” problem because so much produce is lost in the packaging and distribution process.

However, the federal government has put plans in place to address the issue of food waste. In 2015, the USDA launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.

The USDA partnered with the EPA, local governments and charitable organizations to cut food waste in half by 2030. Several initiatives have already been set in place to help meet this goal.

Several organizations in the private sector strive to combat food waste as well. In San Francisco, Imperfect Produce delivers “ugly” produce directly from farms to consumers.

Across all 50 states, Amp Your Good addresses both food waste and hunger through crowd-feeding, a new type of food drive that collections healthy and fresh donations. ReFED takes a data-driven approach to food waste prevention.

Food waste prevention can also begin on an individual level. Cole said that she combats food waste by using as much of a food product as possible and by only ordering as much food as she knows she can eat.

“When I’m cooking, I’ll use some of the scraps of vegetables that I’ll peel or anything, and I’ll put it in a bag and use it to make a broth,” Cole said. “That way, I’m just reusing parts of food.”

She also suggested cutting down on the consumption of animal products to help reduce food waste.

Currently, Americans waste about 40 percent of their food every year. The U.S. Food Waste Challenge, nonprofits and individuals are working to improve food security and conserve national resources.

Related Links:

59 Organizations Fighting Food Loss and Waste
NRDC Report: What, Where, and How Much Food Is Wasted in Cities by Darby Hoover
EPA: United States 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal
NRDC Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill by Dana Gunders
The Atlantic: Why Americans Lead the World in Food Waste by Adam Chandler