Sodexo dining services is working in conjunction with the Ada Re-store to donate left over food from meal times at ONU.
Nico Ruiz Santos, and Industrial Engineering student from Madrid, Spain is behind this program. Nico noticed the significant amount of food thrown away each day at the McIntosh Center Dining Hall. He began work on the project to reduce wasting food and to put excess food to use.
“If we see like you, me, them, whoever that there is some kind of problem, instead of saying hey we’ve got a problem, let’s try to solve it,” Nico stated, explaining why he is involved in the project. On the student side, Nico has employed the use of slides that alternate with the menu slides at the dining hall. Some of these images are modified internet memes such as “One does not simply” and “Grumpy Cat.” All these slides try to humorously remind students not to waste food.
In addition to slides Nico is also working on other ways to reduce food waste. One idea is to allow small tastes of the food offered at the dining hall to prevent wasting food from distaste. Another method implemented has been smaller amounts of food being made such as pizzas, which are no baked in smaller rectangular sizes.
Head Chef Allen Blankenship and Manager Terri Mathis of dining services have worked with Nico to implement the slides and other changes. Even with these changes and more to come at the dining hall, there will still be left over food in the kitchen. Nico has been taking statistics after each meal time to see how much food is being made and what is leftover or thrown out.
Nico has also been developing a relationship between Sodexo, Ada Re-Store and the West Ohio Food Bank to use the leftover food to feed the hungry. Several ways of using this food came up, but legal procedures about public health prevented any implementation. One way was to allow people in need to eat in the dining hall, but that would also have inherent complication.
The solution Nico has been working with is to freeze leftover pans of food and then to give them to Ada Re-Store. The Ada Re-Store feeds an average of 25 people every day, five days a week.
On Thursday, April 16, Nico held an important meeting with representatives from the Ada Re-Store, West Ohio Food Bank of Feeding America, ONU dining services, and ONU Re-Food to finalize and advance the program.
West Ohio Food Bank has authorized the Re-Store to store and administer the food. Each day remaining food after each meal will be stored in freezers in the McIntosh kitchen. Dana Walters of the Re-Store will coordinate the moving and distribution of the food at the Re-Store.
Several portions of the project need further development. The logistics of saving the food and how to transport it must are being determined. An average number in pounds of food being donated also needs to be calculated.
Summarizing the purpose of the program Nico said, “The point is instead of throw, give.”
Nico will not be directly involved with ONU Re-Food once he returns to Spain. This program will need student volunteers to assist in the food storage process and distribution.