Tackling Food Waste at Furman: Chapter 2

By Catherine Hayward

Last week Chapter 1 explained the concepts of food waste as a whole and what Furman’s Dining Hall is doing about reducing their own personal waste. Chapter 2 is all about what Furman does to redirect leftovers instead of sending it straight to the landfill!

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Compost manager and Furman student, Haley Disinger, is an expert when it comes to food waste on campus. Her main focus as a Sustainability Science major is on food security and distribution, she said.

In terms of excess food, she said the “number one priority should be trying to redirect the food that you don’t eat, whether it be to food banks or to animal feed.”

When possible, the Furman dining hall services will do just this by donating the leftover food from the PalaDen and the dining hall.

“When we do have edible excess food, we try to find a way to get it to people. Around the country, we work with food banks and nonprofit organizations such as Loaves and Fishes to take excess, nutrient-dense food from our cafés and get it to food-insecure people,” Bon Appetit said.

However, there are so many rules that revolve around donations that is actually amount donated in the end is less than it should be Disinger said. It has become increasingly difficult to work around the rules and regulations surrounding what food can be safely used again and not. “While this is for the better of consumer health, it is for the worst of food waste,” she said.

When food donations become impossible, composting quickly follows as the alternative. The Furman farm is one aspect of the university that helps soften damage of food waste. This one fourth acre plot of land has revolutionized how Furman University’s campus dining hall carries out its sustainable mission.

Located adjacent to the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, the farm is a unique attraction for Furman students as well as Greenville residence. The Furman Farm enables for a 100 percent food waste free campus dining hall with the help of a system running between the dining hall and the farm.

Furman Farm manager Bruce Adams is the expert when it comes to compost. A fourth generation farmer, Adams guides composting on campus and keeps it efficiently running.

“We compost food waste on-site here at the Furman Farm, and we do our best to show our guests how to properly sort their waste for composting and recycling,” Adams said. “You can even bring your compost from your rooms to the Furman Farm at their drop off station.”

Across all facilities that use composting, it is a great way to reduce inevitable food waste, Disinger said. While it is always more beneficial to not have food waste in general, she said, it is a good option for where the world is now.

“The creation of compost prevents large amounts of nitrogen from leaching out of a landfill,” Disinger said. “Ultimately, the composting program is a successful way to mitigate Furman’s waste stream.”  

Students on Furman’s campus are encouraged by the farm’s composting mission and Bon Appete’s fellows to work toward a general goal of being more environmentally conscious. The monthly presentations conducted by the Bon Appetit Fellows over waste in the dining hall contribute to this.

Check back to the blog next week to read chapter 3 of Tackling Food Waste on Furman’s campus!

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