food wastage

How to Encourage College Students to Reduce their Food Wastage

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Have you ever thought of where the food you throw away goes and how your little task can impact the environment? You might think there is no harm in throwing away the last bites; however, this action contributes to 2.5 billion food waste in the world. We live on a planet with people dying from hunger and sleeping on empty stomachs.

One of the frequent contributors to this activity is the college students; they belong to an age group that does not understand how food-management works. This deduction is backed up by researchers who have concluded that college students are more likely to waste food than anyone else.

How Are College Students More Likely To Waste Food?

There are only two ways in which food is managed in colleges: all-you-can-eat dining halls serving the food or students managing their own expenses by grocery shopping and living with a tiny fridge. Whether you are an on-campus resident or off-campus student, meal plans are always an option.

According to the survey, the behavior of students around food and their habits were observed and analyzed to find out that when students pay once a month for all-you-can-eat dining halls, they tend to waste more food because they are not familiar with the importance of food or how much it costs to plan and put this much food on the table, it is more likely that they take it for granted. It is the same as a person reacting to a buffet or free food at the wedding, filling up the plates only to satisfy their voracious appetite.

However, students who live off-campus or have not applied for the dining halls are learning to manage their groceries under a budget, but they too do not know which things should be filling up their fridges with. Most of them buy items that will go bad after a day or two or buy too much for weekend parties or other students coming over for study sessions that the food can go to waste. Although they are still learning the ropes, and after a year of struggle, they get the hang of it, it still makes them a part of the problem – even if they are the lesser contributors.

Why Are College Students Facing Food Management Issues?

Just like the three Rs of recycling, reducing, and reusing are embedded in the mindsets of the young generation at the school level to remind them of the consequences of not using renewable resources or hazards of using plastics, and the importance of recyclable items, these young minds are not focused onto the issue of food wastage. The teachers at this level do not discuss this issue as the need of the hour. If students are not informed about this and are not asked to manage food, they will not understand why reducing food waste is so important.

Below, we have listed the effects of food wastage to create awareness among college students and ways in which this issue in the future is preventable and overall food waste is reduced. 

food wastage

What Are The Negative Impacts Of Food Wastage?

The ratio of undernourished people to normal people is one to ten. It means every one out of ten people is sleeping hungry or dying from undernourishment. It is imperative to learn the consequences of wasting food as 14 percent of it is already lost in the processing from raw materials to processed food items.

One of the negative effects of food wastage is that the resources used to form it also go to waste. These include artificial resources such as wear and tear in machinery, or vehicles, labor, and our precious non-renewable natural resources such as gas, coal, fuel, and water. Food is only available to those who can afford to pay for it, which is a privilege that there is an option like this presented to them since there are many areas in the world where people are fighting to get two bits of bread.

Another grave consequence of wasting food is the risk of harming biodiversity on this planet. Every organism is linked to a food chain. If one species starts to deplete, there are interruptions in the chains, and life cycle is severely affected. With about to go extinct population of one specie and overpopulation of its prey, people soon won’t be able to get what they want on food menus. An example of this could be the decreasing percentage of Tuna fish that people love to have on the seafood platter. At the same time, fish like Mackerel has maintained a stable reproduction ratio because masses do not consume it.

Also, techniques like mono-cropping are decreasing the grazing pastures for livestock animals. With their food sources getting smaller and the demand for farm animals getting bigger soon, this unstable ratio will create a vacuum.

Natural disasters like famine and unfertile land can also aggravate due to high food waste. Fertilizers and pesticides are two things that maintain a healthy food crop; however, if pesticides are overused to draw away the bugs, they could also pollinate the land and make it barren for further cultivation.

Similarly, the greenhouse gas effect increases with the un-managed food degradation on landfill sites. The by-product of the decomposing matter is Methane gas which gets trapped in the earth’s atmosphere and raises temperatures; the climate changes are more frequent and unstable. It leads to natural disasters like flooding, abnormal sea levels from glacier melting, extinction of animals at the north and south poles, and a higher carbon footprint on the world.

With these severe negative impacts, this world needs preventative measures to help reduce the ratio of undernourished people. Initiatives like Zero Hunger by the UN are one of the model ways to cater to the issue. Similarly, the college societies and administrative boards must adopt ways to reduce food waste, and steps should be taken to encourage students to stop wasting food.

Ways To Encourage College Students To Stop Wasting Food

Here, we have curated a list of innovative ideas which can be used as precedents or taken as inspiration and work to reduce food waste.

Create Student Bodies Determined To This Cause

The first step to reducing food waste and creating awareness about food management in a college is electing or selecting a student body committed to finding ways to minimize food waste.

Such student groups can act as flag bearers to arrange all the activities like volunteer drives, charity events, and awareness seminars or be responsible for the editorial pieces related to food waste. Also, they can act as role models for their age fellows who can choose to follow in their footsteps. These clubs can also help newcomers new to living alone or managing finances, including food and living.

Arrange Seminars For Awareness

The best way to create awareness is to arrange informative seminars regarding the effects of food waste. These sessions can focus on how students can help themselves and implement new ideas to reduce food wastage.

Create Social Media Pages

Another creative way to induce more interest in this topic is to form social media platforms devoted to spreading information about the hazards of food wastage. As it is known to many, the pandemic has hit the world and turned it 360 degrees; people are more engaged online and prefer to stay this way to avoid human contact.

Implement New Rules For Common Fridges In Dormitories

The next thing you can do is ask the dorm administrations to work up some new rules and regulations that would discourage students from throwing away the leftovers and mutually share the food with all other students living.

Smaller Portions For All-You-Can-Eat Dining Halls

Most of the food is wasted in dining halls, allowing students to pile up their plates. To ensure the least amount of food is wasted, only serve a small portion of each item or have a calorie calculator system that allows students to take a specific amount of calories in one go. They must be allowed as many rounds as they want, but every round must be carefully calculated, and the calorie intake must be reduced in each go. This is an adjustable system that can be customized after extensive research on food behavior patterns that can be categorized and implemented into a detailed dining hall plan.

Raise Charity

It is a known fact that millions of people are suffering from hunger and famines; fundraising is again a method that can help these undernourished people, but it can also be the voice of conscience that can motivate students to stop wasting food.

food wastage

Concluding It All

College administrations must find out the specific root causes of their institute’s food wastage issue and then work against it by finding solutions and methods that can provoke students to learn the importance of saving the leftovers and feel empathetic toward the undernourished and unprivileged people on earth. We hope these pointers can help people in managing college students and save food!