Boston College students have relaunched Every Bite Counts (eBC), a student-led initiative that aims to reduce the environmental impact of BC’s dining halls and feed families in need, this spring.
“Especially because of the pandemic, I have been feeling like BC could make a difference,” said Sophia Whelan, a student volunteer with eBC and MCAS ’22. “We have the resources and leftover food to give to food banks and homeless shelters, and there is such a great need for it in Boston.”
BC students launched eBC in 2010 in an effort to address both food waste in the dining halls on campus as well as food insecurity in the Boston area. They aimed to reduce the amount of food BC Dining Services threw out by donating it to food pantries and homeless shelters.
Disorganization and lack of student interest forced the initiative to cease operations twice, however, in 2013 and 2019. After reassessing its game plan, eBC is back to work.
“It really reduces the environmental impact on BC’s campus and then also plays into that role of helping and serving with and for others,” said Ryan Bates, another student volunteer and MCAS ’22. “I think of us as a liaison between the two.”
In collaboration with BC Dining, eBC donates food to the nonprofit Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, which aims to minimize global food waste and eliminate food insecurity by donating meals to those in need.
“If there is food that BC Dining can repurpose in some way in another dish or for late night … they’ll keep it,” Bates said. “Otherwise they will give it to us.”
Twice a week, student volunteers tackle McElroy Commons and Lower, packaging food that would otherwise be thrown away and refrigerating it for collection by Rescuing Leftover Cuisine the following morning, according to Sharyl Thompson, BC Dining’s Newton Campus general manager.
Bates said that he hopes eBC can expand its operations to be a bigger and larger program.
“We are just starting, but so far we are running really smoothly …,” Bates said. “We are starting only packing two nights a week but hopefully we will be able to expand that in the future.”
Thompson wrote in an email to The Heights that her role is to support students and dining units to ensure that food is getting packaged, picked up, and donated.
She also trains both student volunteers and staff to ensure proper packaging and practices.
“We donate it all,” Thompson wrote. “Food insecurity has always been an issue. In the midst of COVID, food insecurity became a more dire issue than ever before. Families that never needed support now needed it to survive.”
Thompson said that eBC is a reminder that BC, although it has its own community, is also part of the greater Boston community.
“‘Men and women for others’ stands out for me,” Thompson wrote. “When someone is in need we are all in need. Some may see it as one or two pans of chicken and rice, but it may be feeding three or four families. Every Bite truly counts.”
Featured Graphic by Olivia Charbonneau / Heights Editor