STONY BROOK, N.Y., May 2, 2022—The dining services team at Stony Brook University turned into “waste warriors” last Wednesday—Stop Food Waste Day—as they participated in a number of activities designed to draw attention to and minimize food waste.
Compass Group, the parent company of SBU’s dining services partner, CulinArt, launched Stop Food Waste Day (annually the last Wednesday of April) to raise awareness of the global issue surrounding wasted food. Stop Food Waste Day is an international day of action to share solutions in our cafés and across social media that address food waste at the source and in the home, and to inform clients and guests about the environmental, social, and financial impact of food waste and provide tips on ways they can save food at home.
SBU, CulinArt, and SBU students demonstrate their commitment to this important cause with many events across campus every year on Stop Food Waste Day. This year, Executive Chef Jack Yuksel led a Teaching Kitchen session demonstrating for participating students the different ways to incorporate vegetables into meals. Elsewhere, chefs created Root-to-Stem entrees—a Broccoli and Carrot Slaw and a Pasta Salad—that competed in an “East vs. West” dining hall battle in which meal plan students voted for their favorite dish. And Peter Klein, CulinArt’s director of culinary development, appeared as a Guest Chef and served a special Stop Food Waste dinner menu that maintained the Root-to-Stem theme.
But the annual event is a culmination of events and commitments that take place all year long, each and every day. For example:
- Our chefs have been working hard behind the scenes to incorporate more meatless and “root to stem” options into our daily menus. Root to Stem cooking utilizes every part of the fruits and vegetables found in a recipe—even the parts that are commonly discarded, including the green tops of carrots or beets and the leaves of broccoli and cauliflower. Used in sauces, stocks, or stir-fries, these parts are often the most nutritious, containing fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
- For the parts of plants and ingredients we cannot use in our menus, we compost! Each dining location has specially designated compost collection containers that are collected weekly and added to our on-campus composter. Each year at SBU, more than 37,000 pounds of food waste is collected and converted to 14,500 pounds of usable compost.
- We work to reduce the footprint of the ingredients we use by sourcing ingredients from local farms and producers—some even as close as right here on campus! Our hydroponic, student-run Freight Farm produces up to an acre of fresh produce each semester, which is used across campus in our salad bars and recipes.
- We work to reduce waste in what we serve here on campus. Trays of prepared food are safely blast-chilled and donated to local organizations like Island Harvest. Grab-and-go items from our Market and Emporium are donated to our on-campus Food Pantry, serving community members (students, staff and faculty) who are food-insecure or who are at risk of food insecurity.
- We are also incorporating more biodegradable and plant-based options for single-use cutlery, reducing the impact of single-use items in landfills. We have also introduced products in our Campus Market and Emporium including plant-based toothbrushes, bottle-free bar shampoos, and more.