Soon, Chartwells will once again begin their Project Clean Plate, a program to make students, staff and guests aware of what they waste while eating in the McMindes dining hall.
The campaign takes a visual approach to showing diners just how much they waste, and it donates on behalf of change to the Community Assistant Center in Hays.
“Project Clean Plate is a program in our resident dining hall in McMindes. And what it is, is a program that encourages all of our guests to continue to take whatever they want, but make sure they eat it all,” said Adam McMiller, director of dining services. “The whole purpose for it is to build awareness and really show that the waste that we have in any given day is huge and has a huge impact on not only what happens in this campus, but likely could have an impact on the community.”
Chartwells began the program for the first time in December McMiller said, but decided to try it again in the spring semester to give students a complete experience.
“We did it in December last month, but that’s not a good time to do it because people didn’t have a opportunity to really get on board,” McMiller said.
“So I’m hoping to do it in February or early March. That will give us some time to hopefully compile our donation to the CAC, which is something that we are going to commit to again.”
Chartwells donated canned goods and cookies to the CAC in December and hopes to continue the same regimen when they pick the program back up later this year.
“We take the average amount of pounds for the week, and we donate the average pound in savings to the CAC every semester. So we will pick a random day as a benchmark and weigh the food behind closed doors. Then after that, we’ll bring out a scale and dump all the waste right into a big bin so students and guest can see actually how much food they’re wasting,” McMiller said.
“It sounds kind of gross, but it has a really big impact when you bring your friends there and you have food that you want to throw away. It almost creates a level of accountability for the food you want to throw away.”
McMiller said Chartwells wants to put an emphasis on the fact that wasting not only affects the school and community, but also the pockets of students.
“It also helps cost too. When you throw away lots of food, all that cost is a part of the meal plan cost. So we try to build awareness through ‘look this is how much we throw away, and these are the end effects to that waste,’ ” McMiller said.
“It’s not like we’re trying to put it in their faces like ‘oh shame on you, you’ve wasted,’ It’s just to show you the impact of your waste.”
Project Clean Plate not only gives students a look into their waste habits, but also gives them a sense of a hot topic in the nation today – sustainability.
“I felt like this was important, given all of the other sustainable things that we do. Project Clean Plate falls under a lot of different headings: sustainability, community assistance … but this is one of the big sustainability things we’re doing.”