Food Waste is Money Wasted

Photo Courtesy of Larry D. Butler
Food waste is a ongoing issue on Famu's campus, especially in the cafeteria.

Florida A&M University students waste between 25-35 pounds of food per day.

Rashard Gardner, the food court manager and marketing manager for student dining at FAMU explains what food waste is.  

“Food waste is any product that has been prepared but not consumed,” Gardner said. “Wasted food is like throwing away money.”

Gardner explained that FAMU operates on a meal plan system. The kitchen prepares a number of portions of food based on an estimated amount of consumption. When a student takes food and does not eat it, it gives the illusion that more food is needed than what is actually being eaten.

Gardner further explained that when the university has to spend more money for food, that increase is reflected in the meal plan price.  

“To goad student into wasting less food, FAMU has started several sustainability efforts,” said Gardner.  

Under the Clean Plate Initiative, a student can request a Metz card from the cashier at the dining hall.  If a student eats everything on their plate/no waste, their card is punched. 10 punches on a card earns a token. Tokens can be redeemed for prizes.  

In addition, the dining hall used to serve eight ounce portions; now they serve only four ounce portions.  They also have one ounce sampling cups so that a student can decide if they like a dish before they take a full portion and end up throwing it away.

“A student can always come back for more,” said Chef Clark Thomas of FAMU food services. “Just put on your plate only what you can eat.”

Thomas also encourages students to fill out the comment cards. “We do pay attention to those cards. That way we can know what the students want,” he said.

A student commented about the Clean Plate Initiative.

“I’m eating a bunch of stuff that I like, so I’m definitely cleaning my plate about three and a half times a day,” said David Oduguwa, a freshman theater major from Houston, Texas.

“I have gotten the Metz card, but I did not know that it was a part of any initiative though,” Oduguwa commented. “Definitely I will use my card the next time.”

Gardner and Thomas encourage all students to participate in the Clean Plate Initiative.