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Issue of food waste applies to restaurants and dining halls alike

Food waste is a global issue and the city of Delaware, Ohio is no exception. Its dangerous environmental and economic consequences can affect all of us.

Sophie Greenbaum, a 20-year-old Jimmy John’s employee who’s been working in the food industry since she was in high school, finds this situation saddening.

“We don’t even know the extent of the damage that we could be causing through this,” says Greenbaum. “Even if we focus on the present, It’s hard to witness so much getting thrown out when you know many people need it.”

Why not donate it then? Well, numerous local food pantries prefer donations in monetary form according to their websites. Moreover, the ones that do accept food usually ask for non-perishables.

This provides an issue for AVI, the company that provides dining services at Ohio Wesleyan University. They pride themselves in serving “fresh meals,” which means leftovers must be thrown away.

Company worker Robert Felton, who works in some of the busiest dining places on campus, gives some insight on the matter.

“We refrigerate what we can, of course, but it’s very complicated because you never know what the people want. Smith Hall, for example, has a 24-hour dining hall, so we have to have certain types of food out all day — those cannot be saved.”

Both Felton and Greenbaum agree the end of the week is usually when the problem worsens, as items such as baked goods can’t be left on shelves for days at a time.

Concerns over health complications related to these also limit options for “recycling” due to unsanitary conditions.

Alternative options exist. Local Starbucks worker Natalie Baker explains that a computer-generated system allows their branch to calculate “pretty accurately” how much food they need to get out of the freezer for the day.

“It’s honestly amazing. It allows us to save so much — only about 10% of our pastries and 5% of the sandwiches end up not getting sold on a weekly basis, but the latter get donated to shelters and we’re allowed to take anything else home. I wish more restaurants and food chains would do this, but I understand that technology can be expensive.”

Take-home as well as throw-away regulations vary from place to place. However, in our city of approximately 43,000 residents, it is reasonable to assume that more food gets wasted than saved.

Whether one is directly or indirectly a part of the issue, it affects all of us, and will keep on doing so unless solutions can be found and implemented. Awareness is only the first step.

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