The GC Office of Sustainability Campus Kitchens program will use untouched MAX food waste to provide meals to locals in need
Every day, several hundred students, faculty and staff rotate through The MAX, completely unaware of the amount of food left untouched at the end of the night.
They set their plates on the conveyor belt which takes the waste to be sorted and composted. But once the dining hall closes for the night, the untouched food is tossed in the trash and forgotten. This cycle continues day after day.
“The MAX recycles some food, but they throw away a lot, too,” said Jimmy James, employee of The MAX.
According to Stacey Gibson of Sodexo, the company that operates The MAX, an average of 500 pounds of food is prepared throughout a single day. Of that 500 pounds, 200 pounds are tossed into the trash at the end of the night.
“Only post-consumer waste, or the food that is left on your plate, is used for composting,” Gibson said. “The food that is untouched is thrown away.”
Only the food that the dining hall visitors throw away is taken to be composted and used for beneficial purposes.
These composted materials are used for soil and fertilizer, and they help create a more organic farming process.
However, the majority of the food thrown away is untouched and therefore unusable in compost. The post- consumption waste gets priority because of the logistics of composting such a large amount of food.
“We’re hoping in the future to increase our [composting] efforts, so we are diverting 100% of The MAX’s waste to compost,” said Kristen Hitchcock from the Office of Sustainability at Georgia College.
The MAX has previously not had an initiative to give their untouched, leftover food to homeless shelters or soup kitchens due to the complication of making sure the food is cooked properly once it reaches the kitchens.
“There are liabilities involved,” Gibson said. “If someone got sick because they ate a meal that we provided, that is a liability on our end. We want to be sure that when the food leaves our facility that it is prepared properly.”
One student, sophomore Alianna Phillipps-Kow, assumed that The MAX had already been giving all of its leftovers to the hungry.
“I thought that the food kitchen program was already started,” Phillipps-Kow said. “That’s something they really need to start up.”
Recently, students involved with the Office of Sustainability at Georgia College are attempting to begin a program that will bring The MAX’s leftovers to a shelter or kitchen in a safe and ef cient manner.
The program, named Campus Kitchens, is a national organization that provides meals to those who cannot afford it.
The main purpose of Campus Kitchens is to transport pre-made meals from The MAX to a site and prepare them there.
Hitchcock said that the student volunteers working with Campus Kitchens are required to be trained in how to heat and cook food in a way that guarantees safety.
GC’s Campus Kitchens will operate out of the Life Enrichment Center on North Jefferson Street.
“A health inspector has gone to the LEC and made sure that, yes, they can receive the food, and they have a place that the students can prepare it,” Hitchcock said.
Cool Kitchens will do what Sodexo and The MAX are unable to do. They will ensure the safety and health of the food prepared and put forth regulations about cooking the food The MAX provides. This way, The MAX will not have to throw away untouched food and food kitchens can receive already prepared food.
“This [Campus Kitchens] is good for student involvement on campus, but also for helping students get out into the community and meet people in the community,” Hitchcock said. “We’re hoping to bridge the gap there. We’re also hoping that the untouched food being thrown away won’t be an issue, and that, with Campus Kitchens, it will be going to people in the community who need it.”
Campus Kitchens is currently being approved on the GC Campus and should be in operation by Spring 2018.