University of Oklahoma donates leftover food from dining halls

About 170 meals each day go untouched and were being thrown away before donation program started.

Scarcity of food may not be a problem on OU’s campus, but for many residents in surrounding areas, that’s often not the case.

To combat this problem, an OU Housing and Food Services initiative is in place which donates around 1,200 meals per week to a range of aide-based nonprofit organizations.

An average of 12,000 to 15,000 meals are served on campus daily, Housing and Food Services spokeswoman Lauren Royston said.

About 1,500 meal exchanges are used each day in Couch Cafeteria alone, cafeteria manager Sharrie Sanders said.

Even with so much food consumed on campus, approximately 170 meals are untouched and traditionally went to waste, Royston said.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources