The amount of leftovers in the college’s Sodexo dining hall has decreased since the new executive chef Rosie Neel was hired.
The decrease does not including what students leave on their plates in the tray return.
“We can’t calculate the food on the tray returns,” Neel said. “Students throw away the food. It’s theirs to do. This doesn’t happen often, but if they didn’t like an entree, I’ll make a note, and I’ll take it off the menu. I’d rather take something off the menu than have [students] throw it away.”
What Neel can calculate are the servings made each day and how many of those servings were taken.
She said, for the month of October, Franklin College’s cafeteria weekly waste of food made and not served averaged $30.90.
The waste is mainly rice and vegetables.
Last year, the total waste was $3,028.48, which includes low-cost items such as pizza, cookies and gelatin desserts.
Les Petroff, the college’s food service director, said the amount of leftovers has decreased for two reasons: batch cooking and Neel.
“We barely have any food left over now,” Petroff said. “We do batch cooking — cooking throughout the meal — simply because we have a chef now who stays on top of the food production.”
Neel said Sodexo has had instances where food is wasted, even with the batch cooking method, because of bacteria and not being able to reheat food.
“For chicken potpie, we made 180 portions then had to make 211, but we only served 183. We had 28 portions leftover,” Neel said. “It gets gooey, and we can’t reheat chicken pot pie and that we had to waste.”
Neel said there aren’t any leftovers or waste when there’s a pasta toss bar, nacho bar, wings or crepes.
Before Neel, when there were leftovers, a woman used to come to the college and take the leftovers to feed local residents.
Franklin College also used to donate the extra food to feeding pigs on local farms.
“We don’t have any leftovers to give because of the way we’re portioning,” Neel said. “We know that 200 students are going to want to eat this product. We’ll cook enough for 150, and once it gets closer, we’ll do an extra 50.”
Sophomore Nathan Stonebraker said he doesn’t have an opinion on the college’s food waste, but he does see a lot of food on the tray returns.
Meanwhile, junior Hannah Hoyt is completing her capstone liberal arts course on living sustainability. The course reassures Hoyt that food waste is never good.
“It’s on Franklin when the food is put on the tray return because that’s the food that Franklin provides,” Hoyt said. “It’s Franklin’s problem, to an extent.”
Hoyt said Franklin could provide students a tray for food that hasn’t been tampered with, monitored just by the student’s word.
“Or if you won’t eat it, don’t take it,” Hoyt said.