Student Input

I recently spoke to an engaged food studies class at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC). The course, known as Eats 101, is an honors seminar on food and culture in the program in Food, Agriculture and Sustainable Development.

After talking about food waste for a bit, I asked the students for their ideas on reducing waste. Since their answers were so sharp and this was at a public university, I thought it only fair to share their ideas. Here are some highlights, organized by subject area and without editorial comment from yours truly.


  • Grow less
  • Form better relationships with more people to sell directly to them
  • Create a local need database to link farmers with the needy. (This sort of exists with Ample Harvest)
  • Rebuff Farm Lobby so US Ag policy doesn’t only focus on commodity crops
  • Improve irrigation technology (minimizing the impact of food waste)


  • Avoid visible “sell-by” dates to minimize confusion with “use-by” dates.
  • Reduced prices for imperfect goods and items near their “sell-by” date
  • Institute a reward system for buying these goods
  • Move away from the idea that a store can never run out of anything
  • Cut down on choices/# of items


  • Serve fewer menu items and aim to use similar foods in apps and mains
  • Be seasonal and local (to avoid shipment and kitchen shelf loss)
  • Offer choice of small, medium and large portions
  • Don’t be afraid to run out of food–it seems more exclusive!
  • Market food waste reduction efforts
  • Give discount for bringing own leftover container


  • Plan meals ahead and make a shopping list
  • Use the entire animal, whenever possible
  • Hold neighborhood leftover potlucks–other people aren’t sick of your leftovers!
  • Create neighborhood listserv for sharing excess food/ingredients
  • Write a recipe book for creative reuse of foods
  • Redistribute on the run–make two sandwiches in the morning and give one to someone in need.
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