As a major provider of meals, the individuals who staff and manage the daily operations at Upper Debot have a large task at hand when implementing waste-management techniques.
The facility is generally the main source of meals for students living on campus as an all-you-care-to-eat amenity that provides a variety of dining options, and Parth Dogra, a student manager at Upper DeBot, said managing waste is part of everyday practice.
“All the packaging that produce and food items arrive in are recycled,” Dogra said. “Even to the extent that during preparation time there are specified locations in the kitchens. Recycling is one of the many ways we try to stay sustainable.”
Dining and Summer Conferences encourages student involvement by regularly scheduling trips to local farms around the Stevens Point area to educate students about the origin of their food. The department also collaborates with student organizations aiming to establish a dialogue where students can voice their requests and sponsor environmental events and campaigns.
In an attempt to minimize waste, all unconsumed food is donated to the Salvation Army Hope Center and Destiny Point Women’s Center. Used cooking oil is also collected by the College of Natural Resources for biofuel research. This provides students with hands-on research opportunities to develop their skills and attain field experience.
One mainline student employee, Michelle Rodriguez, said that it is emphasized that products with earlier expiration dates should be used first to try to eliminate waste.
“While there are several methods in place to reduce food waste, patrons should still only take what they can eat as the food quantity is up to them,” Rodriguez said.
She said students benefit from waste minimization as it keeps food costs in check ensuring that meal plan prices remain low. UWSP was recently voted one of the greenest colleges in the U.S by Princeton Review due in part to these programs.
The efforts to increase sustainability are not limited to only food waste. The DeBot Center recently replaced older dishwashers with a more efficient one, decreasing utility bills, chemical usage and water consumption, she said.
On the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point website, students can view all the information available about the sustainable operating principles in place.