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UPDATED: Food Waste Problem at UW-L.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UW Lax chapter.

Last month, I got to sit down with UW-L sophomore Sam Douglass. He was protesting and raising awareness for all of the food that goes to waste here at UW-L. Now one month later, there are finally some changes with the food waste and we are definitley seeing some progress! I got to sit down with Sam again and ask him more about it. Continue reading to find out more! 


HC: What is the Food Recovery Network?

Sam: The food recovery network is a program that is in a lot of colleges and we are starting a chapter here at La Crosse. It’s where students come in and package up food and then we’ll drive it out to hunger task force or salvation army. We packaged up food yesterday and got 135 pounds and it was great. Last Friday, Judy (Arney) gathered about 80 pounds.


HC: Is Food Recovery Network new to UW-L?

Sam: Yeah it is new. This is the first time we are ever doing it. I’m not sure why it took so long to make but Chartwells is relatively new. This is the first time we are saving food. It’s exciting!


HC: We don’t have a chapter here, but they are trying to get one right?

Sam: I think as of right now there is a chapter. We got all the trays that are used to be transporting the food. We are as of now transporting the food, saving the food, so I think yeah. At this point we are a fully fledged Food Recovery Network Chapter.


HC: Do they give you the containers?

Sam: Food recovery network provides us with the trays that we are packaging up the food. We are not packaging up the food in the metal trays that Whitney has them in. We have disposable aluminum trays. After a while the disposable trays are going to turn into reusable trays as well.


HC: Have you heard about Food Recovery Network before?

Sam: I had not. I knew there was this thing called Campus Kitchens, but Food Recovery Network is the same ordeal.


HC: How do you think Chartwells feels about this? I know they were weird about giving you information before.

Sam: I’ve stayed away from Chartwells through this whole process. They do their thing and now, whether they like it or not, we are doing our thing.


HC: Do you still work for them?

Sam: I do not. I don’t think they liked me speaking out and giving them a negative vibe publicly. So I got taken off the schedule. So that kind of blows. It was nice. I liked the job. It was nice, convenient, and easy, but it’s too bad. We are kind of taking up their space now. We go in their kitchen. When we get volunteers. We are staying out of their way and it’s not like we are doing anything bad.


HC: What else is there to know?

Sam: Well right now we are looking at 2 days a week, which I would personally like to do it every single day of the week, but we are compounding the food. So we are still gathering the food from every single day. We are just going in their a few days a week to put it all together. In the fall, I think we should be doing it every single day. In my ideas, I think it works best if we have an 11am group that comes in and volunteers, a 4pm group and a 8pm group, because those are the three times where they close down their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I think there could be 3 groups going in per day, every single day. We filled out 3 sheet of volunteers when I spent an hour and half at a table in Whitney. Which is super cool. People are still excited about it. In the fall it should be a big deal.

Now it’s up to the drivers where they are bringing it. I’m pushing hunger task force because that’s the biggest food bank and they distribute from there. One of the things they are set on is more of the student interaction with the community and so that kind of compromises our goals a little bit. If we are so focused on the students packaging up and the students driving you might run past the goal of saving as much food as possible. There’s is still a lot of food going to waste. We still aren’t saving all of the food. Hunger task force will accept all the food. They told us they are on call. If we have too much, they said they will come and pick it all up. They’ll take the moldy food, bad food, already served food, to compost it. There’s still a lot more we can do. It’s still good for the first time ever we are not throwing it away.


Visit the Food Recovery Network’s Website here: https://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org 

Sarah Mueller is a senior majoring in Organizational and Professional Communication and minoring in Professional Writing. She loves to write, run, and do yoga in her free time. Follow her on instagram: sarah_muelller