Students say food waste ‘ridiculous’

Vanessa Marcano

Vanessa Marcano

The holiday season is right around the corner with its many festivities, colder weather and a well-deserved break.

For many, these days are filled with shopping, sharing time with friends and the fun part: eating delicious meals at parties and potlucks.

Yet as some people indulge in the holiday feasts, others are not as lucky and find themselves wondering where their next meal will come from. On top of this, a study by the National Institute of Health released last week revealed that Americans now waste 40 percent of the available food supply, around 1,400 calories per person per day.

With an increased number of Americans using food banks across the nation – including Brookings – pitted against the equally increasing figures of food waste, the situation begs the question: is food being wasted on our campus, and is there anything being done about it?

Jill Norman, director of Dining Services, said that staff makes every effort to minimize waste in their operations by keeping accurate production and consumption records.

“We have very little waste in our locations,” she said, adding that on-campus dining locations utilize batch cooking, which means “cooking smaller amounts more often.” Though leftover food cannot be taken by employees or given away due to safety concerns, Norman said that dining staff makes sure to waste as little food as possible.

Yet this does not mean no food goes to waste at SDSU. Matt Jackson, a sophomore history major and student manager at the Market in The Union, explained that for example, food from GrilleWorks – mostly fried – cannot be saved or reused, so any leftovers must be thrown away.

Jackson pointed out, though, that since the Market is open until 9 p.m., there aren’t that many leftovers by that time.

“We end up throwing away stuff like fries. ? We really don’t throw that much away. I don’t think we waste that much food,” he said.

“Local developers can build apartment buildings,” Bielfeldt said. “The university needs to add things that increase the quality of education.”

Al Heuton, executive director of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, said nearly 5 percent of apartments in Brookings are vacant. Recently, the Economic Development Corporation called about half the apartment units to help update a 2007 Brookings Housing Market Study. When that study was completed, there were very few vacancies in the city.

“A 3 to 4-percent vacancy rate is normal,” he said. “You need a certain amount of vacancies in a city to be able to recruit new people to the city.”

Heuton said apartment vacancy rates are higher due to hiring slowdowns and layoffs, the construction of new apartments and starter homes and the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit. With the opening of the new residence hall next fall, developers are concerned vacancy rates could continue to climb.

“Some developers are concerned this could impact some of their rentals,” he said. “? At the same time, the information we’re getting from SDSU says the projected enrollment increase will fill the apartments.”

The consultant’s proposals were based on the 2007 housing market study, Rames said, and so the university will conduct more research before it proceeds with the project. She said the university would partner with someone in the private sector to complete many of the study’s proposals.

“We want an opportunity to collaborate with the community and local developers,” she said.

When the northwest concept was presented to the Students’ Association Nov. 23, President Matt Tollefson and Finance Chair Ashley Dumke expressed concerns about the rent costs. In 2012 dollars, the students would pay $535, including utilities, per person in a four-person apartment. They would pay $642, including utilities, per person in a two-bedroom.

Rames and Doug Wermedal, assistant vice president for student affairs, said a survey of upper-division students showed that some people would be willing to pay a larger sum for higher-end amenities and the on-campus location. Students who currently live in the six most comparable apartments to the proposed units pay 33 percent more than the market average, Wermedal said.

Maria Tracy, a senator for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, said she lived in some higher-end apartments last year. She agreed that some students would be willing to pay more.

“Five hundred dollars is worth it if you make the apartment worth $500,” she said.

The active adult community received mixed reactions from senators. While some supported the idea and said it could provide clinical opportunities for nursing and pharmacy students, others were not so sure. Tollefson said students have questioned how that community would fit on a campus for university students.

Having retired alumni and faculty return to campus could actually benefit current students, Wermedal said. Living on campus may reignite their passion for the university and lead to increased donations to improve student opportunities.

“A lot of classroom experience ? is based on what donors can do for the current students,” he said. “? A campus address can make it more real for those donors.”

The consultant recommended that the university get additional detailed analysis for the active adult community and hotel/conference center concepts. Rames said the university would further analyze all concepts in the proposal through studies and soliciting campus and community feedback.

“This is one consultant’s report,” she said. “The proposal is up for discussion.”