By Madeline Cox
Lewis & Clark has not donated its leftover food to the Portland-based nonprofit Urban Gleaners for two years, despite Bon Appétit stating that all leftover food is being donated to people in need. According to Urban Gleaners, one in five Oregonians live with food insecurity.
“Bon Appétit at Lewis & Clark College is fighting food waste and hunger by recovering surplus perishable food from our campus that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to people in need through Urban Gleaners,” according to Bon Appétit’s LC website.
Bon Appétit also advertises that leftover food is donated to people in need in Portland on a sign at the entrance of Fields Dining Hall and on a sign at the dish bin inside Fields.
Yet according to an anonymous representative from Urban Gleaners, the organization has not been picking up leftover food from LC for two years. They said this is because LC does not package the leftover food into the correct containers in order for Urban Gleaners to pick it up. Urban Gleaners cannot spend the time necessary to package the food themselves, so they have been unable to work with LC.
However, Urban Gleaners does work with other Bon Appétit accounts in Portland.
“(Urban Gleaners works with) Reed (College), Adidas, Cambia (Health Solutions), OMSI and Airbnb,” Director of Operations for Urban Gleaners Diana Foss said.
There is a lack of consensus as to why Bon Appétit is not donating left over food to Urban Gleaners.
“I’ve repeatedly reached out to (Urban Gleaners) and they always claim to be so overrun that they don’t have the manpower to come pick the food up,” Bon Appétit Executive Sous Chef Christian Salama said via email. “We would call them and they would just come get (the leftover food) in the past.”
Some employees believe it is the geographic isolation of LC from Portland that prevents Urban Gleaners from servicing the school.
“It is so hard for the food banks to reach this location,” Bon Appétit employee Natalie Klee ’21 said.
Giulia Cordella ’21, also a Bon Appétit employee, believes that because of changes in pay rates for Bon Appétit employees, the employees are no longer paid for the time it takes to package the leftover food.
“(Packaging food) was included in (the employees) time,” Cordella said. “But then when they stopped (including it) no one volunteered to do it.”
This past semester Cordella took initiative and tried to remedy the food waste issue. She coordinated student volunteers to package the leftover food so that Urban Gleaners could pick up the donations. Cordella was only able to coordinate donations once last semester.
“The first time we (sorted the food) was the first and only time,” Cordella said.
Cordella found it difficult to communicate with both Bon Appétit and Urban Gleaners to organize the event.
“I was skipping my lunch and many of the students were eating (for) ten minutes for lunch,” Cordella said. “We waited for … 30 minutes because (Bon Appétit) didn’t organize anything. There was no space to (package the leftover food).”
Cordella also found the amount of leftover food given for donations disappointing.
“It was a third of what they throw (away),” Cordella said. “It was a start.”
Bon Appétit aims to minimize food waste in other creative ways.
“We always utilize as much as possible and repurpose in soups or if we are able to turn into other delicious menu items,” Salama said via email. “Our waste is minimal.”
Going forward, Bon Appétit is doing even more to reduce food waste at LC.
“This semester (Bon Appétit) actually started tracking their waste, so they’re trying to track actually how much they’re throwing away, and potentially then how to … reduce the waste in the first place,” Klee said.
Students can also help to reduce the food waste produced at Fields Dining Hall through more conscientious eating practices.
“If you just stand by the dish bin … you see so many plates are always full,” Cordella said. “If people know that food is actually thrown and not recycled they would be more careful about what they put on their plates. What’s missing is also awareness on the student’s side. We could actually do something.”