COVE Scrapes Plates

Brittany Messenger

Students eating in Curtiss E. Frank Dining Hall on Monday and Tuesday nights were encouraged to “scrape their plates.”

In an attempt to bring about student awareness about food waste in on-campus eateries, the Colgate Hunger Outreach Program (CHOP) and It Makes Sense came together to hold Scrape the Plate.

Co-leaders of CHOP, sophomores Colleen Tubridy and Dara Seidl, who organized the event, set up long tables in front of the conveyor belts that are used to move trays with used dishes and food waste into the kitchen. Three separate buckets sat on these tables, each with a separate purpose: food scraps, whole food (fruit, bread, etc.), and paper products.

From 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Tubridy, Seidl and other student volunteers watched as their peers wiped the remnants of their dinners into these bins.

“Not too many people seemed annoyed,” Tubridy said. “Most people think it’s a good idea.”

After the buckets were filled, the students weighed them on a scale. Although the overall waste decreased per person from Monday to Tuesday, the final results were shocking. On Monday, there were 159.4 pounds of total waste and 741 diners between 5 and 8 p.m. totaling nearly a quarter pound of waste per person. On Tuesday, after 819 people ate dinner, there were 151.5 pounds of waste equaling a little less than .2 pounds of waste per person.

After scraping their plates, event volunteers offered students the opportunity to sign a petition requesting that Colgate adopt a composting program to reduce food waste.

First-year Emily Riley, one of the volunteers involved with “Scrape the Plate,” hopes that these results in conjunction with the petition will spark the administration’s attention to the large amounts of food waste on campus.

“We hope that instead of dumping food scraps from our dining halls into the garbage, they will eventually be composted in a site off campus,” Riley said.

The desire for Colgate to compost was strongly expressed at the Green Summit last month.

Riley, a transfer student from Hampshire College in western Massachusetts, explained how at her old school, all students must scrape their plates after meals, so that the waste can be composted. It seemed like a luxury to her to not have to do the same when coming to Colgate; however, she finds that it comes at a cost too high.

“Composting creates nutrient-rich soil,” Riley said. “Colgate has the money to do it. The administration just needs to know that the desire is there.”

There is a great deal involved in making Colgate a composting university, but Seidl and Tubridy hope that “Scrape the Plate” will make students realize how much food they are wasting.

“We’re going to advertise the numbers and try to encourage students to not use trays on certain days [in an effort to take less],” Tubridy said.

“We hope they’ll remember all of the food they have wasted and think about it next time when they are going up to get more food,” Seidl said.

With a total waste of almost one half a pound of food per person over two days, event organizers are hopeful that students will see the need to take action.