USF's First Food Waste Audit

The audit, at Juniper-Poplar, indicates USF students waste less food than the national average.


                                                                                                             Video: Danielle Barta | USF News 


By Daylina Miller

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 4, 2011) – On Friday, Oct. 21, the University of South Florida’s Office of Sustainability and USF Dining teamed up to perform the university’s first food waste audit.


The audit was done in celebration of Campus Sustainability Day as a way to figure out the mechanics of doing a food waste audit and expand them to other dining facilities on campus, said Christian Wells, the director of the USF Office of Sustainability.


It was also to figure out how the average USF student compares to the national average when it comes to food waste.


At the Juniper-Poplar dining facility, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., 187 students out of about 1,200 students who passed through the facility had their food waste weighed, said Aramark Marketing Manager, Jenna Burns.


Eleanor Ayres, an intern in the Office of Sustainability and USF student majoring in environmental science, stopped students on their way to the conveyor belt and asked permission to weigh their waste. Just 187 agreed.


“We noticed that some individuals, once they figured out that we were weighing their waste, if they perceived themselves to have a lot of waste, didn’t want to have theirs weighed,” Wells said.


The national food waste average, Wells said, is between six and eight ounces, according to studies posted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.


The USF food waste audit showed the average USF student wastes between four to six ounces of food.


“It made me happy that USF students on average are wasting less food than the national average and I think that’s because there is a greater awareness on campus of sustainability,” Wells said.


Wells said a contributor to students wasting less food on campus was USF’s Dining’s adoption of reusable trays and pledge to go Styrofoam-free.


Last spring, a student group in Wells’ Honors College class “Campus Ecology” did an informal waste audit on the Marshall Center lawn, pulling waste from garbage cans stationed nearby and dumping it on plastic sheets to sort through. They estimated 8 percent of the throwaways were recyclable or compostable.


Daylina Miller can be reached at 813-500-8754.