Saving food, one ounce at a time

Thursday, Jan 25, 2018
by Nick Donnoli

If you step into a dining hall any day on Princeton’s campus, you’re presented with a vast array of cuisines from around the world.

Though portions are carefully calculated, some food goes untouched at the end of meal periods. While Campus Dining has had a composting initiative for 20 years as part of its sustainability efforts, there was a communal feeling that the food could go toward a better cause.

Smitha Haneef, assistant vice president for Campus Dining in University Services, and Sarah Bavuso, sustainability manager for Campus Dining, had been meeting with chefs on campus as well as students in Greening Dining, a student group focused on adopting more sustainable practices in the dining halls. Working together, students, chefs and administrators began an effort to distribute the excess food to families in central New Jersey.

“As part of our vision, we are committed to being in service of our campus and our community,” Haneef said. “We take a one-ounce-at-a-time approach to reducing food waste. We recognized an opportunity to divert edible food away from composting and landfill, which only strengthens our program.”

“You can look at communities around Princeton and see how many families there are in need of help. We really wanted to take the food that we spend so much time preparing and give it one last chance to feed another person or family,” Chef Dan Maher said.

The process of getting the food to the community involved a series of steps. Aside from following a strict logging and packaging process to adhere to health codes, Bavuso faced a larger challenge.

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