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The University of Central Oklahoma launches an on-campus food recovery program

Since the program’s launch in October, Broncho Bites has recovered 25 pounds of food.
Student standing in front of Broncho Bites refrigerator
The goals of the program are to reduce food insecurity among students, faculty and staff, as well as to divert food waste away from the landfill. / Photo courtesy of The University of Central Oklahoma.

The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) in Edmond, Okla., has recently launched Broncho Bites, a food recovery program that aims to reduce food waste and provide meals to the campus community.

Under the program, food leftovers from the main dining facility will be repackaged and brought to the Broncho Bites refrigerator. The food is then available to be picked up by all UCO students, faculty and staff. Additionally, unclaimed meals will be taken to a compost bin. Food from the compost bin will then be used to fertilize the campus gardens.

The program launched in October and has since recovered 25 pounds of food, according to a statement.

Broncho Bites is funded through a grant from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. The program was created through collaboration between UCO faculty and staff members and UCO’s dining contractor, Chartwells.

“We are so proud to be able to play a small part, here at UCO, in alleviating food insecurity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through composting,” said Mark Walvoord, assistant director of UCO’s student transformative learning record, in a statement, “Receiving this sustainability grant reminds us of the impact a small group of individuals can make on our campus and the larger ecosystem.”

Walvoord said that the goals of the program are to reduce food insecurity among students, faculty and staff, as well as to divert food waste away from the landfill.

“Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in the nation with 1 in 7 of our population being food insecure and facing hunger. At the same time, in the United States, it is estimated that 63 million tons of food was wasted in 2018, and that 40% of food produced in the U.S. is not consumed,” he said, “Broncho Bites, along with our campus composting efforts, are part of a larger food recovery project on our campus running this 2022-23 academic year.”

Additionally, the program helps to support UCO’s larger sustainability goals. In 2021, UCO signed an agreement with the city of Edmond to deepen its commitment to a more sustainable community, according to Walvoord.

“This project goes a long way in meeting that commitment,” he said.

In the future, Walvoord said that UCO hopes to recover usable food from more campus dining locations and to further the campus’ composting efforts. Additionally, he hopes to have a commercial composter unit installed in the spring.

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