By Hannah Doan
On Monday, we had the chance to meet with our stakeholder, Aliana Lungo-Shapiro, the Sustainability Manager for Housing & Hospitality Services. She warmly welcomed our group and gave us a mini tour of Bruin Plate, UCLA’s newest dining hall that serves healthy, wholesome, and nutritious food. Aliana provided us with insights about the intentions behind the construction of Bruin Plate. Originally, we aimed to focus our waste measurements at De Neve dining hall and Bruin Plate, however, Aliana brought to our attention the fact that De Neve dining will be closed for renovations during spring quarter. To prevent any disruptions in our research and assure accuracy in our data, we decided instead to use Covel Commons dining hall for waste measurements.
Aliana also walked us through the waste and recycling process that goes on in the back house of Bruin Plate, from sorting the materials to pick up. We are dedicating our research to waste from student consumption. We saw that a major issue for the vast amount of waste in the dining halls came from students.
In addition to our main research, we presented some suggestions to Aliana that might help us achieve our objectives. We suggested the use of digital display screens to showcase each particular dish served in the dining halls during that meal period as opposed to having physical dish displays. Furthermore, one of our leaders, Joseph, proposed a brilliant way to expand on last year’s SFS recommendations about collaborating with E3’s farmers market. In the hopes of promoting sustainable foods to students, his idea was to work with chefs at Bruin Plate to create once-a-week specialty dishes showcasing seasonal farmer’s market items.
Unfortunately, two days later, our stakeholder informed us that Bruin Plate will no longer be a possible location at which to conduct research. Instead we will be using Feast at Rieber as our themed dining hall. Feast is known to serve authentic pan-Asian cuisine from seven popular Asian cuisines. One of our research focuses will be the differing amounts of waste created by the various cuisines. We are also interested in finding alternative ways to replace the imported products with more sustainable, locally-sourced products, while upholding the restaurant’s authenticity. Our team will be getting hands-on work and collecting measurements within the next few weeks. Prepare to be amazed by the numbers!