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UCF first to partner in new recycling project

Contributing Writer

Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:10

SGA recycling program

Laura Newberry / Central Florida Future

SGA is working with Aramark, a dining and facilities management company that runs many restaurants at UCF, to recycle leftover food from on-campus eateries like Marketplace, above, and Knightro’s. The program is modeled after a national Aramark project, which promotes the donation of food to Second Harvest Food Bank.

UCF has taken on many sustainability projects, but that has not stopped the initiation of new ones. The Student Government Association has teamed up with Aramark, a dining and facilities management company, to decrease UCF’s carbon footprint and give back to the Orlando community by recycling and donating leftover food.

The work in progress is being modeled after a national Aramark project, which is to take leftover food and donate it to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Marketplace, Knightro’s, both Einstein Bros locations and all catering events are currently recycling and donating their food. Second Harvest Food Bank picks up recycled food once a week. SGA’s goal is to get other vendors around campus involved as well.

Aramark is a popular catering and dining provider for colleges and universities nationwide. It has chosen UCF to be the first university to take on its nationwide project and see how it does on a smaller scale. If it is successful, universities such as Florida State University, University of Florida and Florida International University will use UCF as a model to attempt this project.

“We are committed to reducing food waste at our dining locations and want to find environmentally and socially responsible ways to recycle the surplus food we have,” said Eden Wetherell, UCF Dining Services’ environmental sustainability coordinator.

If the four currently contributing vendors are successful, all Aramark-controlled locations on campus will begin to donate. These locations include Java City, Seattle’s Best, Knight Stop, BK Whopper Bar, Chik-fil-A and the convenience store in the Progress Energy Welcome Center. SGA’s role will be to get non-Aramark vendors, such as Subway, Sbarro and Joffrey’s to join. Aramark is there to provide SGA connections to Second Harvest Food Bank.

Rachel Brill, SGA vice president, said, “It’s very exciting to be the first school in Florida. This serves as a perfect example of how UCF’s carbon footprint is getting smaller. Food recycling is relatively simple and has a great impact.”

The Whatley-Brill cabinet has been excited to work on a food recycling project, but the original idea was quite different. The idea was to build a Campus Kitchen and bring all the collected food there and distribute accordingly. This would have required much more work. With the help of Luke Spratt, a second year LEAD Scholar, the project switched routes.

Spratt, a sophomore forensic science major, approached SGA and brought the Aramark national food recycling project to its attention. This initiated SGA President Cortez Whatley and Brill to model that project, but on UCF grounds.

As a LEAD Scholar, Spratt focuses on the issue of hunger and homelessness, which serves as the driving force for his efforts.

“I think it’s sad that a huge college could waste so much food,” Spratt said.

Because this project has been running for only a few weeks, there are no records of how much food has been donated from the four dining locations. However, the amount is being recorded in pounds and will be further evaluated at the end of the semester.

Even though food recycling is relatively easy for vendors, it has a scrutinizing process. For example, food from buffets cannot be donated because of the risk that it had been touched. There are also cooling regulations that make the selection of recycled food more intricate. This selective approach guarantees quality food.

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