It’s time to lick that plate clean!

Regina Siefert

Most students here will admit to having parents that often said things like, “You can’t leave the table until you eat everything on your plate!” and “Think of all those people starving in Third World countries.” Yes, the nagging was tiring, but believe it or not your parents brought up a good point: we waste a lot of food. It is likely that we waste even more in college than we did at home where there were people to bother us about it. “Also, since we don’t make or cook our own food, we don’t think about it much,” said Peter Maldonado, co-president of Greenfire.
To raise awareness of the copious amounts of food that Dining Services has to throw out each day, Greenfire puts on a weeklong campaign every year called the Clean Plate Club. “We spend a week at Downer tabling. People sign a big banner pledging to waste less food,” Maldonado said. Jenny Murphy, the other Greenfire co-president, added, “This year we’re weighing an initial amount of wasted food in the beginning, having the week of pledging, and then weighing at the end to see if there is any difference.” Greenfire predicted that about 400 pounds of food would be wasted during the initial weighing day. “Four hundred pounds is a lot of food to waste, and that is only what people got and decided not to eat,” Murphy said. Downer did their initial weigh-in on Monday, finding that 340 pounds of food were wasted that day. That number referred to Downer alone; Lucy’s waste had not been weighed by then.
“Downer [staff] is actually really excited about Clean Plate Club,” Maldonado said. “The less food we waste, the less they have to buy.” He also explained that if the cafeterias save money on buying food, they will likely be able to spend it on making more meals from scratch rather than buying processed food – something Lawrence students would no doubt enjoy.
Pledging for the Clean Plate Club will begin Monday and continue through Monday, Nov. 14. The final weighing will take place on that day. “We’re doing it earlier than usual with the intention that people will continue to be aware of their food waste throughout the rest of the year,” Maldonado explained. The end of the Clean Plate Club also coincides with the beginning of SWAHP’s Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week. “I feel like tying it in with Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week is a way to think about the issue in a broader sense,” Murphy said.
How much do you waste at each meal? If you haven’t ever thought about it, the week of Clean Plate Club will give you a reason. Hopefully, you will sign the Clean Plate Pledge and participate in trying to create less food waste. “We’re really not asking that much,” Murphy stressed. “The gist of it is thinking about how much waste you’re producing and what you can do to cut it down. It’s understandable if you get something you don’t like, but that’s why you’re supposed to get smaller portions.