The event helped students visualise their weekly plate waste from Catered Halls 

Students learn to reduce food wastage

Students are learning to reduce food wastage in a project brought together by the University of Exeter Students’ Guild, the Students’ Green Unit, Campus Services and Exeter Foodbank.

As part of a campus wide initiative led by Campus Services to reduce food waste, daily audits have taken place in all areas of food production and consumption to assess waste quantities.  The food waste pile-up focuses specifically on the amount of food left on students plates at the end of a meal service.  The audits which took place at Holland Hall, Birks Grange and Exeter Halls from 3 - 24 February revealed that students waste on average 780g each per week.

The project culminated in an event in the Forum Street on 10 March where the volume was represented by a mountain of tinned goods donated by University of Exeter students and staff.  It is hoped that the visual display provoked student interest in how to reduce food waste while living on campus and highlight the impact students can have through their own eating behaviours.  It is also hoped that students may learn top tips to take with them as they move into their own accommodation.  Members of the Students’ Green Unit and Campus Services were on hand to talk to those with an interest in the project, offer advice and gain feedback.

Nick Howe, student lead for the project and President of EnviroSoc said: "Food waste is a very important issue for students, many of us are living away from home for the first time and cooking for ourselves so it's hard to know how to mitigate your waste. We need to learn these skills early on in life so that we don't end up getting bad habits! Focusing on the catered halls is a great way to really have an impact, as it brings it home to so many. This project will allow students to have a much better idea of what the impact of food waste is and how the students and the University are able to work together to make a change"

Julie Tong, from Campus Services, is chairing a working party to tackle the Food Waste issue and commented: “Campus Services are looking to reduce waste at every step of the production process.  Food is a really big contributor to the overall amount of waste produced by the University and we would like to do all that we can to minimise this.  Nick’s project is a great initiative and the first step towards trying to reduce plate waste in catered halls, whilst highlighting the real impact students themselves can make.”

The Food Waste Pile-up Project also aims to raise awareness of people experiencing poverty in Exeter. After the pile-up event, all donated goods were passed to Exeter Foodbank for use in their food parcels. The Foodbank is part of a national network that provides emergency food parcels to individuals and families referred from professional agencies such as social services. John Vinall, from the Exeter Foodbank said: "Thank you very much for the food that you donated to the Foodbank through your food waste event. The amount you donated was 250kg which is a great help to those in Exeter who are in food crisis".

For more information contact Caroline Yoe from the Students' Green Unit.

Date: 13 March 2014

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