Measuring Food Waste: Logistics

By Gabrielle Ruxin

This week, we started planning exactly how to weigh the dining hall waste during our waste audit so that we are ready to jump into research next week! 

Our team is split into two groups, one that will measure food waste during two lunch periods and one that will measure waste during two dinner periods. The dinner team met at Covel with our stakeholder, Aliana Lungo-Shapiro, and the assistant food service manager, Damaris Hernandez, who has been a big advocate for recycling and food sustainability initiatives at UCLA dining facilities.  Aliana and Damaris showed us Covel’s dish room and we saw where we will be located and what bins we will use for the food waste audit. 

One issue that came up is the fact that Covel is open from 5pm to 9pm for dinner, while Feast is only open from 5pm to 8pm.  In order to get the most accurate numbers, we have decided to measure waste from 5pm to 9:30pm, when all the students will have left Covel. 

Waste Watchers in the back of De Neve dining hall 

Waste Watchers in the back of De Neve dining hall 

We will split the waste into two categories: liquids and solids.  Along with simply measuring waste, we will determine the number of people that visit the dining halls during our shifts and find average numbers of food wasted per person.  Similarly to the 2009 Waste Watchers action research team, we will attempt to photograph and record random plates of food to see the disparity that can exist between amounts wasted.  In addition, we will take note of particularly popular menu items to see if this has any effect on waste. 

We are all very excited to begin our research, even if it means getting our hands dirty!  

Photograph courtesy of UCLA Today.