By Madison Otten
On April 29, the Rocky Mountain Room once again hosted students from all walks of life as they learned about the hard truths in the food industry. Some of the students who attended this event also participated in the Hunger Banquet and Photovoice exhibition.
The Hunger Banquet and Photovoice were events hosted by April Lewandowski and Kelli Cole to help bring awareness to the growing issue of hunger in the community. The students learned all about how many of their fellow students are struggling day to day to find a meal, but now they were finding out that the food is out there, but it’s being wasted left and right.
Kristina Khal’s Wasted Food event delved into the problem of how wasting food plays into modern day food insecurity. Students in her sociology class had the ability to show off their hard work and research while simultaneously educating their peers on the issue.
One of students showcasing their projects was Ryan Scudder, who found that researching the issue helped him get a new perspective.
“I feel like all the research I did opened my eyes not only nationally but in our community,” said Scudder. “It definitely showed me that it’s an issue that needs attention in terms of food insecurity.”
In the Rocky Mountain Room, Khal’s students set up display boards decorated with pictures, statistics and a little flair on each project. The students investigated grocery stores, hospitals, schools, farms, landfills, restaurants and homes to get a better understanding of the scale of the waste. At each station, the students provided food for the visiting patrons. Refreshments were also available. The students who studied landfills even had a mini ball toss game set up.
Sheridan Adams, a participant in the event, found that the event helped change her perspective on food waste.
“I never thought about how much grocery stores wasted,” said Adams “I asked if they sold cheaper items to help reduce food waste, and now when I go shopping I look for them.”
There are several essential questions the students were tasked with answering: how much food is wasted, what are they trying to do to lessen it, what are the complications, how does it connect to food insecurity? Along with investigating the issues around food waste, they were also tasked with coming up with solutions. All the students had inspiring, hopeful and intelligent solutions for the issues at hand. Just listening to the students present their findings and solutions showcased just how dedicated they were to the topic. Many of the projects for the event had insightful and diligent research. The students were left to their own volition to get answers; they went to the places they researched and asked the important questions all on their own.
A representative from the farming food waste station, Justin Lyon, found that his work on the project affected him personally.
“After researching, I’ve been more conscious about my food waste,” said Lyon “I started throwing away as little food as I can.”
In light of seeing mass quantities of food go to waste (about 40% of food in the US goes in the trash reports USA Today), the students have tried to take it upon themselves to change their perspective and their actions for the better. Many were happy to learn that the institutions around them are doing their best to help change the way they approached food insecurity for the better like the ‘ugly produce’ initiative at grocery stores where they sell bruised or misshapen fruits and vegetables at a cheaper price to help cut down on food waste.