U of Rhode Island combating food waste

When composting isn't possible, other ways to reduce waste are vital.

April 19—Though a comprehensive composting program isn't feasible at this time for the University of Rhode Island's dining services department, the team is still working to reduce food waste in its operations. 

 Steve Mello, URI’s director of dining and retail food operations, says composting large quantities of food requires massive “waste refrigerators” to house it until trucks can come retrieve the waste.. These refrigerators can be costly and the nutrient content of the food waste may not be suitable for use as a fertilizer, he said. Food that is suitable for composting costs significantly more than what is currently being used in the dining halls, Mello said.

Mello, and dining services, are constantly looking for ways to limit waste. The amount of food consumed and the types of meals that sell best are recorded daily. This information is used to show the average amounts of food that will be needed at specific times during the day and what foods will be eaten based on popularity. This helps ensure there isn’t a limited surplus of food at the end of the day.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of New Mexico’s proposed on-campus taproom has officially been approved by the school’s Board of Regents.

Construction on the $650,000 student union taproom will begin this summer and is expected to finish in August when students return to campus. The school’s food vendor, Chartwells, and UNM’s Dining & Food Services department will split the cost of the taproom evenly.

Designed by students in the school’s architecture department, the space will feature a rotating selection of beer and wine, and will also welcome guest brewers. Chartwells will be...

Ideas and Innovation
cafeteria

Three years ago, Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., started a pilot supper program at its high school. The goal: To make sure the district’s students, 57% of whom are on free or reduced-priced meals, would not be hungry when school is done for the day.

Since its inception, the program has expanded to 12 schools and now provides afterschool meals to children participating in YMCA activities. And it's just one of many such programs popping up in districts throughout the country, as operators add supper to the list of daily meals they provide for students.

Building...
Ideas and Innovation
hydroponics

We put our hydroponic gardens in a spot where students can watch them grow, but at the same time it’s safe from being tampered with. At one of our elementary schools, the gardens are in the kitchen, but there’s a window where students can look in as they walk down the hallway. Some even stop to count how many cucumbers they see.

Ideas and Innovation
food snap

We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

FSD Resources