According to an audit conducted by the college’s sustainability classes, University of Maryland students are wasting less food at their three dining halls on average than compared to one year ago. This audit aimed to analyze students’ food waste habits and determine the effectiveness of waste management programs.
Let’s take a look at the specific results of this audit, and what they mean for other higher education institutions struggling with food waste.
Audit Results: Lessening Food Waste
During the data collection period, which ran from February 8-16 of 2018, an average of .10 pounds of food per person were wasted by university dining services, thus producing about 34 pounds of food waste per hour. This is down from 2017, when the average was .16 pounds of food waste per person.
The University attributes their reduction in food waste to their “Anytime Dining” initiative, which was implemented in fall 2016. In this program, students living in traditional campus housing have unlimited access to any campus dining halls at any time during the day for any number of visits. This way, students don’t need to worry about eating a certain number of meals during a designated period of time.
Notably, the audit also found that nearly 30,000 gallons of water were wasted each night in 2018, the equivalent of offering 55,000 children with clean drinking water per day. No data exists for water waste from 2017.
Rising Costs of University Dining Services
Much of the focus on college expenses has been on tuition and fees; however, cafeteria costs have also been rising significantly. The price of an average college dining hall contract has risen 47% in the last decade; similarly, overall food costs in the United States rose 26% over the same period. So, students who buy on campus dining contracts spend significantly more than if they shopped and cooked on their own.
In fact, data from the US Department of Education shows that the average college charged around $4,300 for a 19 meal-per-week contract during the 2015 academic year, which averages to about $7.50 per meal. Given the cost of meals on campus, it’s easy to see why some students might opt to skip meals in favor of saving money–which directly contributes to food waste on campus.
We’ve explored how to successfully battle food waste with data insights in a recent blog; that said, it’s encouraging to see how one school made such a significant difference over one year.
After all, food waste affects your college’s financial health. Regardless of whether it’s a small or large amount, food waste immediately hits your bottom line because it’s a product that isn’t sold. The more that your dining services can do to reduce food waste, the more opportunities you have to increase your revenues.
Contact us today for more information on how your institution can reduce its footprint in food waste and increase revenues all at once.