Columns / Discourse / September 21, 2016

Increase Knox’s food recovery efforts

Last year, the Food Recovery Network (FRN) recovered more than 11,000 lbs. of food from the cafeteria. The food was taken to four organizations where it was distributed to people in need.

It is impossible to say for sure, but for every pound of food recovered, at least double, and probably triple or quadruple was thrown away. I can claim “at least double” that amount was thrown away because FRN recovered one meal a day, five days a week and did not recover food from the Gizmo. If more people joined FRN, perhaps we could deliver seven days a week and recover ALL the food.

This summer, I told all of this to a friend of mine who is homeless in Chicago and she asked, “Aren’t there homeless people in Galesburg?!”

“Yes,” I said.

“Don’t they understand humanity!?” she asked.

I hesitated and then, unable to reconcile this contradiction, said, “No, they do not.”

What Knox has understood, as long as I have attended this school, is our money. I don’t wish to demonize the administration for this. Knox is competing amongst a specific breed of schools and the competition is tough. Knox does good things with their money; we are ranked 14th in the nation for “Top Colleges Doing the Most for Low Income Students” according to the New York Times. This doesn’t mean that waste should be excused and capital unquestioningly exalted.

But look no further than the Gizmo’s soup to see proof of the dark side of the reign of capital. There is a large laminated sign that says “No Free Refills.” I asked someone who works at the Gizmo what happens to this food at the end of the night. It gets thrown away.

I hope I don’t have to break down why this soup policy is reprehensible for a so called non-profit organization.

It is absurd for Knox to require on campus students to pay between $7.39 and $16.24 per meal, only to throw away tons of food and tell staff to take an extra swipe from anyone they see sneaking food out of the cafeteria. This is why it is laughable that Knox students and/or administrators would then pride themselves on composting the discarded food.

The school should ensure that students have access to this food. They should ensure that the leftovers are available to those in need. But they don’t.

This is why FRN staged the Weigh the Waste campaign (in which it weighed discarded food from students’ plates). The point, in my view as an independent participant in the campaign, was not to guilt the individual, but to get the individual to both join our group and to challenge the institution for its negligence of our community. Please join the Food Recovery Network, because we need your help. Anything less than 100% food recovered is unacceptable. If you are mentally and physically able, you can sign up to deliver food at 2:40 p.m. It takes about an hour. If, for any reason, this time frame does not work for you, come to weekly meetings at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall Room 117. Email to sign up or ask questions.

Alex White

Tags:  discourse food food recovery food recovery network FRN waste Weigh the waste

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