Cafeteria should take note from Widji to reduce food waste

At Widjiwagen, counselors weigh food to help reduce the waste.  SPA should adopt a similar practice in the cafeteria.

Illustration: Jack Benson

At Widjiwagen, counselors weigh food to help reduce the waste. SPA should adopt a similar practice in the cafeteria.

Jack Benson, Staff Writer

As students scrape their plates before setting them in the dish window, food-filled compost bins serve as a reminder of the large amount of food that St. Paul Academy and Summit School’s students waste.

Seeing all that food that go to compost is disappointing and knowing than 795 million people in the world don’t have enough food to maintain a healthy diet is troubling, especially when there’s food left on the plates of SPA students. The overarching issue is that students waste too much food. They put more on their plates than they can finish, then throw the rest away.

Every student at SPA can do their part to reduce waste. In the United States almost a third of all available food goes uneaten. That’s 133 billion pounds. This shows there is way too much food being wasted.

SPA’s kitchen staff is very efficient when dealing with extra food. Head Chef Simon Barrow and the kitchen staff have multiple programs to reduce food waste.

“We keep detailed and accurate food records and production sheets for every meal we serve, so we know how much to prep,” Barrow said.

Half-eaten food gets composted, a uneaten food gets donated to a homeless and domestic violence shelter. Jesse Peterson, one of the security guards, often works with the shelter and takes the food there.

Making sure one’s plate is completely clean after lunch will almost completely eradicate student’s food waste.”

SPA’s kitchen staff does their part in reducing waste, but students waste too much food. No one wants to get tiny servings, which force people to make trips back to the lunch-line for seconds and thirds. Getting the freedom to choose between many healthy and tasty school lunches is a privilege which should not be squandered by not eating what’s on one’s plate. Making sure one’s plate is completely clean after lunch will almost completely eradicate student’s food waste.

However, there is a way for students to waste less food. At SPA, seventh graders take a trip to camp Widjiwagan. The staff at Widji have an interesting way of reducing food waste SPA can learn from. After each meal students scrape all their half eaten food into a plastic container. One of counselors will weigh the container, and tell the class how much food they wasted.

The first day at the camp the levels of waste are high, but as the week goes on and students actively try to make that container weigh less, the amount of food waste significantly drops. A similar idea needs to be implemented in the cafeteria.