Hate waste on campus? Love Food On Campus

Wilted lettuce and mouldy bread got you down? There’s a new way to combat food waste on campus, writes Nadene Budden.

How mindful are you with food wastage?

Between the takeaway coffee cups and cardboard plates and food boxes that float around campus, sometimes it gets hard to determine exactly what to do with rubbish. As we become more aware of the detrimental effects of landfill and waste disposal, more opportunities to recycle all this discarded stuff have been encouraged. Now, information on all the ways to save that little piece of plastic wrap are right on the end of every person’s fingertips, but there is still a long way to go.

This is true for food waste on campus at UON too.

In 2014, UON conducted an audit between the Callaghan, Ourimbah and Newcastle City campuses to find out just how much waste students make. It found that out of nearly 3000 kilograms of waste generated at UON, 36 per cent of it was recycled.

Since these discoveries, UON has put into action a number of initiatives to combat the rubbish going into landfill to create a cleaner, more efficient campus environment. UON’s Champions4Change program has partnered with Hunter Council for the creation of Love Food On Campus to engage students with the food they eat and the food they throw out.

The overall aim of the Love Food On Campus project is to minimise the food waste generated by students, while at the same time building a ‘community of practice’, where students living on campus encourage each other to form eating habits that are healthy for them and the environment.

“The main aim of Love Food on Campus is to find out what UON students need to cut down on their food waste,” Project Officer for Love Food On Campus, Emma Grezl, said. Students can take part in focus groups and surveys, earning iLead points the more involved they are with the Love Food On Campus team.

So far, there has been a movie night for all students involved, with cooking demonstrations for residential students, recipe cards and meal planning guides to come. It may not seem like much, but these are the things that make sticking to a tight budget just that little bit easier.

“Using a shopping list and sticking to a budget saves more money as people aren’t sucked in by ‘reduced to clear’ items that may be cheap but only edible for 1-2 days and end up in the bin,” Grezl said.

It’s not something a lot of younger people would think to do, but if the things needed are the only things bought, there is more chance of it all being cooked and eaten and not going rotten like that sandwich everyone keeps in their high school backpack.

Although the Love Food On Campus project is currently based on Callaghan campus, there are hopes to eventually make food waste resources available to UON students across all campuses. “This could be through a student cookbook, e-books, an app or UON specific survival guides…we want students to tell us!” Grezl said.

So, want to brush up on your cooking skills? Maybe learn how to utilise those wilted vegetables sitting in the corner of the kitchen, or lend some ideas for minimising waste on campus? Students can keep an eye out around Callaghan campus for posters and information on upcoming events. ILead students looking to become part of the Love Food On Campus crew today can find more information on the Love Food On Campus page on the UON website.

Feature image: Jackie Brock.

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