February 1, 2019
K-State wins regional Food Recovery Challenge award
Kansas State University was named a winner of a 2018 Food Recovery Challenge award for Region 7 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
For decades, K-State Housing and Dining Services has focused on preventing food waste through vendor partnership, precise purchasing, production controls and creative menu writing. A coordinated program among Housing and Dining Services, Division of Facilities Recycling, the K-State Student Union, the College of Agriculture and agronomy department has assisted with the collection, transportation and facilitation of compost from campus organic matter. On-campus composting facilities provide an educational laboratory for students and faculty. Vessel and windrow composting methods are utilized. View a video of K-State's composting program.
In addition, students in various academic programs are educated on methods of food waste reduction in all aspects of the food system, from production to consumption.
"While we all are aware of the positive sustainable impact we can have by reducing our food waste, we also need to realize the educational benefit it provides our students," said Kelly J. Whitehair, administrative dietitian in Housing and Dining Services and instructor in the food, nutrition, dietetics and health department. "Students are the reason we are here as faculty and staff. Knowing that our efforts can demonstrate positive outcomes to them and that we are hoping to extend the beauty of our environment for future generations makes all of the work worth it."
These collaborative efforts have provided for ever-increasing prevention, capture and reuse of food waste materials. The university saw a 16.3 percent increase in food recovered on campus from 2016 to 2017. The opening of a student-focused food pantry, Cats' Cupboard, added an additional outlet for edible food items from campus entities. These efforts not only provide an environmental benefit but a financial one as well. The diversion of 58 tons of inedible food waste, such as vegetable preparation scraps, from the landfill saved nearly $3,000 in landfill tipping fees last year as well as provided rich organic matter for campus landscaping and gardens.