Chopped bell peppers on cutting board

Dec. 12, 2017 — University Housing & Dining Services has won a $27,372 grant that will help the department become more sustainable.

The grant, from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's Materials Management program, will allow UHDS to start using a new waste-tracking system called LeanPath behind the scenes in campus dining centers.

Workers will be able to use scales, cameras, and a touchscreen user interface to accurately weigh and track wasted food. Reports will show where food is being wasted and why. For instance, did certain ingredients go bad before they could be used? Are there foods that students frequently take but then don't consume? With that data, UHDS can adjust its purchasing, production, menus and staff training to prevent waste in the future.

Chris Anderson, the assistant manager of Marketplace West Dining Center, led the effort to apply for the grant. He said the grant will help UHDS in its continual effort to use sustainable practices and minimize negative environmental impacts.

"In the end, this is about bringing attention to wasted food and our opportunity to lessen our impact," Anderson said. "This is an exciting opportunity to reflect on our practices, both positive and correctable, and to have an impact that aligns well with our institutional values."

Dining center staff expect the LeanPath equipment to be in place by summer 2018.