University of Calgary Donating Leftovers to Local Charities

Connector Spring 2018

Aramark, the university’s food service provider, composts post-consumer waste to ensure food waste is diverted from landfills. But this year, Aramark, the Office of Sustainability, University of Calgary Food Services, and the student body have come together to not only shrink the university’s environmental footprint, but also improve our socioeconomic sustainability.

UCalgary is partnering with Leftovers, an organization that works as an in-between for charities and food providers, to ensure extra food goes to those who need it.

“This partnership came from the need to be conscious of where our leftover food is going,” says Aramark operations manager Ashley Browning. “We have programs in place to curb food waste, but we didn’t have one that allows us to give back to the community the way this does.”

Amira Elwakeel, a third-year engineering student and a member of the student club Engineers without Borders, has a special interest in sustainability. She’s part of a collaborative team hosting Food Waste Awareness Week in mid-March. After hearing the university’s new tactic to divert food waste to those who need it most in our community, Elwakeel felt it was a positive change and long-overdue decision.

“As a huge campus of over 30,000 people, there’s no question there’s a ton of food wasted,” Elwakeel says. “There’s always going to be leftovers, and putting them to use in the community instead of wasted is amazing.”

Once the program is up and running fully in the coming months, University of Calgary Food Services and Aramark will donate extra food safely and efficiently to two local charities: Made by Momma and Antyx Community Arts.

Since 2011, Made by Momma has provided healthy homemade meals, wholesome baked goods, baby essentials, children’s items, supportive in-home visitors to women and children who need it most. This 100 per cent volunteer-run, grassroots movement allows mothers the time they need to rest, recover, and focus on their families and their health.

Antyx Community Arts, on the other hand, is a community arts company that combines art and community development to engage youth in the power of community connection. Since 2010, Antyx and their involved youth have created community murals, plays, performances, videos, and musical projects all aimed at creating vibrant communities.

Both Aramark and the student population say donating leftovers isn’t the only way UCalgary can reduce its environmental and socioeconomic footprint. Reducing the volume of extra food is also an essential step.

To combat this, Aramark ensures their staff are taught about portion sizes, proper vegetable and fruit cutting methods, guidelines that more accurately predict how much food is needed per guest, as well as vigorous composting.

“I think the root problem is there’s an excess amount of food in Canada,” Elwakeel says. “But in the reality we live in, (partnering with Leftovers) is a good move.”

For more information on how to reduce their food waste footprint, students, staff, and faculty were invited to get involved in Food Waste Awareness Week held in March at the Information and Communications Technologies Building.

Source: UToday (U of C)