Kayla Hart walks into the Cypress Lake Dining Room at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. As she walks through the door, she gives her school ID to the worker at the front desk, and they swipe her in. Hart proceeds to seek out an open seat while also observing the food on display, choosing whatever looks the most appetizing. As she leaves, she dumps her food into the huge dish return, completely aware that the food not eaten, will be wasted.
Food that students do not finish eating from the Cypress Lake Dining Room is currently being wasted, but there are individuals who are working towards bringing more attention to this issue.
Hart, a sophomore at UL Lafayette studying public relations, is currently a student worker at the Office of Sustainability and believes that students would benefit from multiple programs that display the effects of wasting large amounts of food.
“If we did waste seminars, like how they do with scholarships, sports, and other things, it would help people understand the seriousness of wasting food and being sustainable,” said Hart.
The responsibility to decrease wasted food goes much further than just those in charge. Students, faculty and all who enter the dining hall must be conscious of their decisions when choosing an amount of food to take.
Monica Rowand, Sustainability Coordinator at the Office of Sustainability, said that about 30-40 percent of food in the United States is wasted and there are measures being taken to decrease the amount daily.
UL Lafayette has a program called “Weigh the Waste,” which has been in effect since 2017. During the Weigh the Waste program, members from the Office of Sustainability go into the dining hall twice a semester and stand near the dish return with buckets that students can dump their food in. When the bucket is full, the members place the bucket on a scale and weigh the total amount of pounds within the bucket. After calculating, they then add the pounds to a board, which keeps track of the total amount of pounds the wasted food equals.
Since starting this in 2017, there has been a 40-pound decrease in the amount of food wasted. Rowand said that this program brings awareness to students, and she has been given feedback from them saying that it helped them in realizing that the amount of food wasted is a serious problem.
“It’s really a behavior issue if anything,” Rowand said.
Lachele Hassen, a sophomore studying nursing at UL Lafayette, visits the dining hall on campus every day for lunch and dinner, and says that she never thinks about food wasted and where it goes.
“When you’re cooking for a big population, it’s hard to measure a perfect portion for everyone, so there’s bound to be waste,” said Hassen.