A green composting bin sits next to a conveyor belt.

Food Waste Reduction

Serving thousands of customers daily, uneaten food on college campuses can result in massive amounts of waste. Decomposing food waste is a top contributor to climate change, while 1 in 7 Pennsylvanians experience food insecurity. The issue is being addressed head on at Penn State through such initiatives as:

Leanpath: Innovative technology and a partnership with Leanpath allows us to track and measure all Residential Dining food waste. In the first year of using Leanpath, we realized a 30% reduction in food waste. Goal-setting, data analysis, and collaboration are all important tools in reducing food waste from its source

Various Serving Sizes: Preparing dishes smaller than an average serving size to a variety of options and allowing customers to take only what will be eaten

Waste Audits: Gathering and analyzing food waste statistics to understand effectiveness of other initiatives

Food Recovery: Over 140, 000 lbs. of food have been recovered from Food Services by the Central PA Food Bank since November 2018. In addition to serving 26 counties in PA directly, the food bank also has a partner network of over 1,000 agencies that help recover food. Abba Java is a local parter that recovers campus food to distribute downtown

Composting stations in each dining common also aid in the reduction of food waste.  Customers separate compostable food from other waste before dishes are cleaned.  Penn State then composts all food waste by sending it to the on-campus composting facility.  The composted materials are returned to the University grounds through landscaping soil.