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Weighing how much HoCo diners waste

By Adam Cook

Staff Writer

With thousands of people visiting the dining halls every day, the idea of how much food is wasted often comes to mind. Two graduate students, Molly Stryker and Lindsay Hoar, dietetic  interns at UNH, set out to calculate how much food was wasted in Holloway Commons over the course of four meals.

Stryker and Hoar conducted this study in partnership with the dining halls as a part of their Take Less, Waste Less campaign. The campaign was designed by UNH Dining in order to spread awareness about food waste with hopes of reducing the amount of wasted food to help better the environment.

“The study will educate students to their contribution to the problem,” Stryker said. “We are all part of the problem.”

The project took place a few weeks back on Sept. 9 and 10. The first day, Stryker and Hoar collected food right off of plates in the dish return for breakfast and lunch, and then lunch and dinner on the second day. Stryker and Hoar collected food for a total of eight hours.

“Hundreds of people were coming at us with food,” Hoar said.

The food was scraped off of the plates and put into yellow buckets that were weighed every half hour.

Students were overlooking the campaign until they saw the scale of their own contribution,” Stryker said.

After the four meals were complete, Stryker and Hoar found out that they had collected 665 pounds of wasted food.

While this study was going on there had been 5,749 people served through four meals. This creates an average of 1.85 ounces of wasted food per person.

“We got great feedback from students,” Hoar said.

This study was also done at the other two dining halls on campus, Stillings and Philbrook. The study was done in the same way that the one in Holloway Commons was but due to the size difference, the numbers from Stillings and Philbrook were not as outstanding as they were at Holloway Commons.

222.3 pounds of wasted food was collected from Stillings and 460.8 pounds was collected from Philbrook.

This study was used to open up the eyes of students as to how much food is wasted at the dining halls. In putting up the graphics at various places in Holloway Commons, students are able to see the data from the study and can read more information on the Take Less, Waste Less campaign.

“It was an educational experience, no finger pointing,” said Stryker.

Both Hoar and Stryker were very pleased as to how the study turned out and hope students will understand more about the consequences of wasting food.

Uneaten food sits beneath the conveyor belt at HoCo as part of a study on food waste.
Uneaten food sits beneath the conveyor belt at HoCo as part of a study on food waste.
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