Every Bite Counts Prevents Waste On Campus
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Sometimes the simplest ideas are those that have the greatest impact. Two years ago, then-sophomores Ashley Thibodeau, CSON '12; Riley Collins, A&S '12; Emmie Monsein, CSOM '12; and Stephany Shelton, A&S '12, observed an obvious problem: all of the extra food thrown away each night in the Boston College dining halls. In response, they founded Every Bite Counts, an organization that saves this food and donates it to local charities every weeknight.
"We were just talking one day about how it seems like there's a lot of food that must go wasted at BC, and we were curious about what happens to that food and if there were any measures in place already to save it," Collins said. "So from there we set up a meeting with Michael Kann, the associate director of Food and Beverage, and ever since that meeting the dining staff has been so supportive and really excited that there's a group of students that is interested in doing something like this."
These four friends were not the first people to notice this problem at BC, but they were the first to actively do something about it.
"During our meetings Michael had said, ‘We've always thought about this as being an issue. We do throw away a lot of food in our dining halls, but our kitchen staff has so much else to do at night that it's really hard for us to try to save it on our own,'" Shelton said. "The administration has been so behind us because this organization is completely student-created and student-run, and it doesn't put a lot of extra stress on the dining staff."
All the dining staff has to do each night is set out all the extra plates of food that have not been eaten. Then, at around eight o'clock, a team of four students from Every Bite Counts enters the dining hall and packs the unused food into containers and freezes it. This food is picked up in refrigerated vans on Sundays by the veterans' shelter in Cambridge. Currently, Every Bite Counts collects food from the Lower and McElroy dining halls, but the organization plans to expand to Stuart during the spring semester.
"In the past we've donated to Greater Boston Food Bank, but I think donating to a smaller shelter is nice because they come to depend on the food and it builds a more personal relationship with the shelter," Collins said. "The feedback Michael is getting is that they rely on our food," Shelton added. "Hearing that made me feel really good because it seems like we're really vital to them now."
Every Bite Counts has experienced major positive changes this year, and more are to come. This was the first year that the organization set up a table at the Fall Involvement Fair, and membership increased greatly. The organization now has over 50 volunteers.
"The student volunteers have been so excited about jumping on to this group that it's never been an issue getting more volunteers for it," Collins said. "I think everyone really sees what a great way this is to make a difference right at BC."
This increase in membership does not mean that the organization is done recruiting, however. "The second semester schedules have changed and not everyone is available at the same times so we're kind of scrambling to replace those people," Shelton said.
As the cofounders of the group have reached their senior year, they are now looking for younger students to take leadership roles next year to keep the organization going strong.
"We've added group leaders this year, with the intent that some of them would want to have a bigger role next year," Shelton said.
Another major change made this year is recording how much food is actually being saved. "The final number for last semester was 300 containers," Shelton said. "They're pretty substantial containers, so that's a lot, I would say."
Despite these recent positive changes, the cofounders of Every Bite Counts are always looking to improve their organization. "One of our worries is that the BC community doesn't have that much of a connection with the veterans' shelter, so we've talked about having our group go there and see it or have our group work a day there during this semester," Shelton said.
The founders are not only proud of the impact they've had on the local community—they are also proud of the model that Every Bite Counts can be for other BC students who want to create positive change at or through the University.
"There are so many areas at BC, it could be in environmental areas or education initiatives, where students could make change," Collins said. "Students really have the ability to approach the administration and say, ‘I want to start this, and it's possible.'"