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Dietetics Club takes action to reduce food waste

Nicole Penke, Life Writer
May 8, 2013
Filed under Life

While attending a conference to further their education in nutrition, UW-Green Bay students also found a way to give back to the community.

Members of the UWGB Dietetics Club collaborated with the Salvation Army to take extra steps to reduce food waste and give back to society.

Dietetics Club members attended the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conference in Stevens Point April 19.  More than 200 professionals and students in the nutrition and dietetics field from across the state attended. The sessions included The Obesity Challenge: Aging, Obesity, and Long Term Health; Importance of Meal Timing on Appetite; Control, Satiety and Body Weight Management; and Managerial Communication Skills.

Denise Halbach, UWGB Dietetics Club co-president and junior human biology major with an emphasis in dietetics, has been a member of the Dietetics Club for one year and attended this year’s conference.

During one of the lunches served at the conference, Halbach realized the hotel was going to throw away numerous untouched plates of food.

Halbach collaborated with fellow club members Caitlin Banker, Alex Stenner, Gail Feldkamp, Lisa Rabe, Jamie Hurley and Sara Schmitz, lecturer and director of Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics, to create a plan of action to help solve the problem of food waste.

Halbach sprang into action to contact a local Salvation Army and coordinated a perishable foods donation of the lunches.

The Dietetics Club members were able to collect 54 boxes of healthy food containing spring mix salad, chicken, dinner rolls, cookies and granola bars.

Halbach said she had overheard a food service worker say that they throw all the food out at the end of the day. As a college student, Halbach doesn’t like to waste anything. She used the time between sessions to call the Salvation Army to ask if they would accept the different healthy foods. After the Salvation Army agreed, Halbach recruited the UWGB Dietetics Club attendees to go from table to table asking the people to put the untouched food in to-go boxes.

“I was impressed with how receptive everyone seemed to the idea and how willing they were to help,” Halbach said. “Everyone worked so well together, and it just seemed to fall into place.”

Halbach was overwhelmed with the success of their efforts to reduce food waste.

“I didn’t realize just how many untouched plates there were,” Halbach said. “I initially thought there were only 20 to-go boxes, and I could easily fit them into my car. That wasn’t the case. I had to call the Salvation Army,  and they kindly came and picked them up with their much larger vehicle. It feels great to have been able to recover such high-quality food and give it to those who need it.”

Their success inspired the members of the Dietetics Club to continue their efforts at home.

According to Halbach, they are currently trying to coordinate a new program called Campus Kitchens Project with Sarah Himmelheber, UWGB social work professor. The idea is to reduce food waste in the community by collecting uneaten food from local places and repackaging it into meals to deliver to a population in need.