Lawrenceville Food Service Director Gives Advice to PA on Reducing Food Waste

Gary D. Giberson is not only concerned with the food he eats but also the food he doesn’t. Giberson, the Food Service Director at the Lawrenceville School, spoke to students and faculty about how Andover can improve food quality and sustainability by reducing food waste on Monday. He spoke about his success making Lawrenceville’s food program sustainable and nutritious by supplying Lawrenceville with more local foods. He also discussed how more local foods could be integrated into Andover’s dining. The meeting took place at the time of the usual faculty meeting, but all students and some representatives from Aramark, the corporate food service that Andover uses, were invited to attend. Cost is the main barrier for schools to attain a healthy food supply. Local, organic foods usually cost much more than their processed alternatives, but as Giberson wrote in an article, “the quality, taste, freshness, wholesomeness, and environmentally responsible breeding practices was worth the extra money.” One of the reasons that Giberson has been so successful in his efforts is that, despite the extra cost of this food, he has managed to keep the total budget for Lawrenceville’s food the same. Trish Russell, Sustainability Coordinator and Instructor in Biology, said, “The key [idea] that I learned from Giberson is that as he changes the sourcing [of the food], the price increases, but the total cost of the dining service at Lawrenceville has stayed the same because of savings in other areas, primarily reducing waste.” “We are very lucky to have the good food offerings that we have,” Russell added. “We have a great deal of choice and what we are looking at [now] is how to improve on those options even more.” The Phillips Academy community would have to focus on reducing waste for the school to increase the amount of fresh local food available. The school would be able to spend less money composting and incinerating waste and more money could be dedicated to buying organic foods. Many of the changes advocated by Giberson have already been incorporated into Andover dining. For example, Andover already has a selection of organic and local foods purchased through Aramark. Andover is also in the process of going trayless. Andover buys all of its food through Aramark, which means the food is purchased through “approved” vendors. Giberson founded his own company so he could personally approve vendors. Many students seemed enthusiastic about what Giberson had to say and supported implementing a similar program at Andover. Other students were less excited, but most agreed that the changes Giberson proposed would be at least somewhat beneficial. John Chapman ’09 said that, although many students would support Giberson’s program and few students would stand against the program, he was unsure of how food taste would be affected.