Andover EAT Club Hosts Third Annual Food Waste Challenge

Andover wasted approximately 730 pounds of food every day in March 2018, according to the Food Waste Challenge video showed during Wednesday’s All-School Meeting (ASM). Hosted by the Andover Eating Awareness Team (E.A.T.), the Food Waste Challenge will measure the amount of food wasted during Friday’s dinner in order to raise awareness about food justice.

According to Allison Zhu ’19, Co-Founder and Co-President of the club, Andover E.A.T.’s main goal is to reduce food waste on campus, as well as to spread awareness about food security. Through the Food Waste Challenge, volunteers will count the amount of clean plates and dirty plates on the conveyor belt. Members of the community will also have a chance to make donations and pledges to support food justice.

“[Andover E.A.T. Club] really believes that daily actions can make an impact. If one person finishes their plate every day or if one person spreads awareness about food security and food justice, that can be hundreds of pounds saved over a year. If you multiply that by the amount of students here, that can actually make a really great impact. I think keeping in mind here that food is a human right, but not everybody has access to do like we do,” said Zhu.

According to Erica Nam ’19, Senior Organizer of Andover E.A.T., small actions are emphasized, especially if the entire campus acts in solidarity.

“If everybody does this together, they gain the knowledge of how bad food waste is. They can not only tackle that at Andover, but in bigger communities, even after they leave,” said Nam.

Students tend to rush and grab food that they end up not finishing, according to Zhu. The long lines are also a big factor in food waste as students prefer not to wait in line again and end up getting too much food.

“It was really surprising to me seeing completely untouched food going through the conveyor belt. On Friday nights, a lot of the times there’s cheese pizza and I’ll see three slices of pizza on a plate that just goes through. I know [Paresky Commons] tries to save the food. If you can refrigerate it, they preserve it. A lot of times the food doesn’t go to a donation center. It’s not just students who don’t finish their food, [Commons also] does not exactly know the exact numbers of people who will come in so a lot of that food is wasted if people don’t come in,” said Zhu.

The large amounts of food wasted were a sharp contrast to the lack of food and malnutrition in other parts of the world, according to Isabella Morona, ’19, Co-Founder and Co-President of Andover E.A.T. During their freshman year, Zhu and Morona traveled to India for a Learning in the World trip, and noticed the hunger and the children who don’t have access to food, according to Morona. Through this realization of a global food crisis, Andover EAT was founded.

Nam said, “Just being mindful of the fact that if this food is wasted and you put food waste in the conveyor belt, it does go somewhere and it does impact our community and the whole global world.”

In previous years, Andover E.A.T. donated the money raised to two schools in India and to a soup kitchen, Bread and Roses, in Lawrence, according to Morona. All proceeds this year will be donated to the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter in Boston. Another new development in this Food Waste Challenge is that Exeter will be also participating.

“With the rivalry with Exeter, [we are trying to] create a fun competition between the two and create A/E spirit. Tomorrow at ASM, we will have the Blue Key [Heads] on the stage and potentially on Friday have their cheering and so people are aware of the fact and spike that competitiveness for Exeter in all of us to reduce more waste,” said Morona.

According to Allison Guerrette, Campus Sustainability Coordinator, and Agatha Kip, Nutritionist/Registered Dietitian, the faculty advisors to Andover E.A.T., they enable the students’ passion in food justice with access to the necessary administrative and logistical needs.

Guerrette and Kip wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “As we all experienced during Non Sibi Day last week and in all the years previous, we all are part of a bigger and broader community. Food waste reduction here on campus inevitably leads to awareness of food waste and food insecurity now and in the years ahead.”