George Mason Law School

Waste not, want not

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October 5, 2007

1:30 AM

According to my anthropology textbook, one American child consumes as much food as 34 Indian children or more than 200 Sub-Saharan children in one year. Consumption is fine until it starts becoming waste. I have never been able to finish everything on my plate during my meals in the dining halls on campus. As I slide my tray onto the conveyor belt at the University Center with a half-eaten pizza slice and unfinished vanilla pudding, I can distinctly hear plates being emptied out in the trash cans inside. And this is just me. Imagine the entire student body — more than 7,000 students — doing this at least twice a day, every day.

p. Thankfully, there is an organization on campus that cares about all this waste. The Campus Kitchen is an organization started in 2007 which uses leftover food from the cafeterias to help feed homeless shelters near our area. According to the Campus Kitchen listserv, they “take the surplus food from Dining Services, as well as other organizations such as the Williamsburg Food Bank, prepare the food and package it into meals, and deliver the meals to people in need in the area.” Although it may not seem like it, Williamsburg does have poverty issues that need to be addressed.

p. The Campus Kitchen is a premier example of the service that the College offers to the community. The College is a very service-oriented school and this organization shows everyone how true that is. Instead of monetary donations, students give up their time to package and deliver meals from dining halls to the needy — a creative way to help people because it gives the students a chance to experiment with different recipes and allows them to actually interact with those they are helping. This is a group that we need to support and cherish; it brings us closer to the community through a good cause.

p. I urge everyone to participate in the Campus Kitchen program because it tackles the primary need of existence: food. While it is true that some of our schedules may not be generous enough to allow us to participate in everything we want, we can still reduce our daily negative impact on the community through other simple acts. Perhaps, when we stand in line at the Commons Dining Hall next time, we can try to get what we need, rather than getting a plate full of everything that looks good. I am not saying to eat less, because that is not the point, but just try to waste less. I am notorious for being lazy — I get all my food at once and then realize that it is impossible for me to finish it. We all take the abundance of food available to us for granted, and while this may be a sign of a wealth, it can sometimes result in a little insensitivity toward those who do not live in such opulence — even those in our own neighborhood. Besides actually helping the community, Campus Kitchen serves as a mechanism of awareness for the student body.

p. For us, such organizations are just the beginning. There are many other ways to reduce our wastefulness besides food. The other day, two students came to my door with reusable plastic cups, so I could reduce the trash caused by throwing away paper ones. Campus is bustling with service opportunities, but it’s up to us how big of a difference we choose to make — both good and bad. Try not to be like me, and go for seconds if you need to. This way, rather than piling the baked ziti on your plate all at once, you won’t hear it being scraped into the trash can as you walk out.

p. __Kalyani Phansalkar is a freshman at the College.__

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