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Student Sustainability Coordinators have conducted ten food waste studies this fall

The Student Sustainability Coordinators (SSCs) are a team of passionate students within Cornell Dining that help create and promote sustainability initiatives for everyone around campus. Our team includes Caroline Tam (AEM '24), Emma Fauset (E&S '23), Amanda Edwards (E&S '24), and Noa Dijstelbloem (E&S '24).

Although the pandemic temporarily sidelined our work, we’ve been working hard to bring sustainability to the forefront of Cornell Dining. We’ve helped to educate lowerclassmen about the reusable container program in dining halls, brought back the 10% discount for using reusable mugs in retail locations and restarted our food waste studies.

Students sit at a table, with more students standing in front holding plates

While you may have heard of the first two initiatives, the food waste studies are more discreet. The SSCs conduct food waste studies twice a week in various dining rooms to collect information about what students are wasting at the end of the meal and why. We hope that the feedback we receive from students, then give to the chefs, can help reduce future food waste through the improvement of recipes, introduction of different menu items, etc. 

This semester, the SSCs have conducted 10 food waste studies so far and have weighed over 90 pounds of waste and found that the average student wastes 0.17 pounds of food each meal. Although this may seem small (about the weight of a deck of cards), remember that thousands of students go to dining rooms each day - all of a sudden, that’s a lot of decks of cards. We believe that with just a little change, we all can help make a big difference. Consider coming back for seconds (“our eyes are bigger than our stomachs”), and if it’s a new dish, take a little to see if you like it or not (“taste, not waste”).

Discarded food scraps in a plastic bin sitting on top of a scale

About Cornell Dining

Cornell Dining is consistently ranked in the Princeton Review's top ten for best campus food among all colleges and universities in the country! That high rating comes from customer surveys, and reflects Cornell Dining's commitment to serving high-quality foods that are healthy and creatively prepared with genuine care for a diverse community. Cornell Dining operates over 30 on-campus eateries -- which include residential dining rooms, cafés, coffeehouses, food courts, and convenience stores -- and serves more than 23,000 meals a day to members of the Cornell community. For more information, visit