Food 2023

Updates: 1/14/2023

I summarized food sustainability efforts broadly in the Fall of 2022 for Dr. Nix in HHK / Nutrition. That summary is below.

There has been more than a decade of work to promote food sustainability on campus. For the most part, efforts have come and gone, many killed off by Covid. I’ve put together a tentative Sustainable Food Plan to guide attempts 2022-23 to revive these efforts and figure out a way to make them sustainable.

These efforts will require working with students and WCSA, AVI (which has a new manager and is, I believe, contractually obligated to engage in food sustainability efforts), and Together We Compost.

A few archival artifacts

OWU Sustainable Food: 2022-23

1) Food Education, Cooking, and Purchasing Sustainable Food at OWU

a) Food Education: HHK and ENVS collaborate on the underappreciated (and needs to be updated) Food Studies Minor. This minor is related to both ES majors and the Nutrition major. For 2022-23 it would be great o review our various food and nutrition efforts (including Cooking Matters), suggest revisions to the Food Studies Minor (including integrating internships with partners), and promote the development of an educational kitchen in SCSC (proposal here).

b) Purchasing Local and Sustainable Food: Among the most attractive aspects of AVI when they took over from Chartwells (about 2017) was their ability to work with AVI Kenyon, which has 20+ years of developing a local food network and integrating local and sustainable food on campus. Work began under the first AVI Manager, Jim Pearce, and OWU was able to tap into AVI Kenyon’s network. In addition, Jim was discussing and purchasing some food from Seminary Hill Farm / MTSO. Covid and chaos at AVI put all or most of these efforts on hold. At this point, it seems we will have to start from scratch with the new AVI manager. This includes trips to Kenyon and Seminary Hill Farm to make contacts and plans.

  1. Regional food networks and sources (with AVI Kenyon and Seminary Hill Farm)
    1. ROAR Food Aggregation Proposal (Fall ’21)
    2. MORPSE Local Food Plan (2010)
    3. Ohio Smart Ag Plan (2019)

c) Mobile Garden Proposal: Gardens have come and gone on campus for more than 50 years. They always fail. A proposal was floated in 2017 to build portable container gardens that a forklift could move. The containers could be moved near a SLU or residential hall when students are interested in growing food. When interest wanes, the containers, soil, and all can be stored behind B&G. Mobile gardens also avoid the problem of garden development over or near underground utilities, which are common on OWU’s campus. Notes from the 2017 proposal are here. A draft TPG from Fall ’22 is here.

  1. Mobile Gardens
    1. Proposal: OWU Campus Gardens & Food: Fall 2017-Spring 2018
    2. Proposal: Mobile Raised-Bed Container Gardening at OWU (Payton Kutz)

2) Food Waste Efforts

a) Food Recovery Network: usable, packaged food moved off campus. The organization restarted (after the Covid break) and functioning well and may be ready to expand its reach.

b) Reusable Food Containers: There is quite a bit of work done on this effort, and the core problem was getting students to return the containers, along with the staff at AVI not understanding the process. Previous research shows that we need drop-off containers in the residential halls and potentially sports facilities (athletes who eat on their way to practice). This entails the purchase of collection containers and pick up and return (all of which have costs).

PS: this may also solve the disappearing dinnerware issue.

c) Preconsumer: Composting Food Scraps: Food scraps are primarily from the OWU kitchens and have been weighted and documented in the past (probably now) as part of corporate waste reduction efforts (not really about climate change, but about the corporate costs of wasting food: thus they use some of the scraps for broths, etc.). These scraps are clean of contamination (oil, meat, etc.).

Worm Composting: 2018-20: The last substantial effort on this front was the work with Aleks Illic (Kristina Bogdanov’s husband). Worm composting. We had an entire plan to incorporate a social entrepreneurial company and sell the worm castings to pot growers and use the profits to fund food security efforts in Delaware. We had an Activity (0.25) credit course that ran until Covid. See syllabus: ACTV 0801 Food Waste syllabus. Covid and Aleks’ health issues put an end to this effort.

A recent proposal to have Together We Compost (Alex Clemetson – who is teaching the Environmental Racism course for ENVS. STAP Student Sustainability Coordinator is working (Fall 2022) to get WCSA to fund half of the costs, and we would seek a donor for the rest. See Appendix (below) for details on funding available via our student organization, WCSA.

  1. Composting (overlap with Waste and Discards)
    1. Dmitri Ashakih Proposal (Fall ’21)
    2. Together We Compost Proposal (Fall ’21)
    3. Price Farms Organics Proposal (Spring ’23)

It seems that ABM and their new recycling contractor has plans for composting; it would be great to have more communication on this front, not because we have any ultimate say, but because we have been working to make this happen at OWU via WCSA and donations.

d) Postconsumer: Student food waste: The stuff dumped in the sundry garbage cans in and near campus food sites.

In the early 2000s, we had a composting program (funds from the DKMM Solid Waste District) where food waste was picked up and taken to Price Farms Organics for composting. It lasted about 1 year. The company we contracted with for transportation went belly up right after we were banned from Price Farms for having too much contaminated material.

The last effort to look at actual student food waste, as opposed to the other two categories (1 and 2) above, was around 2008. A summary PDF is here. A zipped folder with more information is here. What is good is that there is data. Students weighed food waste while doing various educational efforts to see if they could shift the amount. It also corresponded with Chartwells (food service at the time) trying various ways to get students to throw away less food.

The students working on this 2008 effort found it nearly impossible to get students to separate food waste from other waste, which ended up being the issue with our hope to have “clean” food waste from students we could compost. We even had student waste monitors with signs about sorting your food waste and instructions. Students would nevertheless dump trays of food, paper, gum, napkins, and metal silverware, into the food waste bin right in front of them. Finally: we did have a group of these students working on sorting the food waste from the dining halls for a while – so we’d get “clean” food waste. They were too nauseated and frustrated to do it for more than a few weeks.

Ultimately, the issue is one of changing food serving so less waste is generated. We can work on this with AVI in the spring. I expect this will be mostly getting students engaged in this issue, along with buy in.

3) Recycling, Reuse, etc.

a) Ugly Mug Program: A project initiated spring of 2020 (right as Covid broke) where Goodwill supplies OWU with (free) ceramic mugs which are made available on a rack at several key locations on campus near high-output coffee sources. The mugs are mismatched, a dime a dozen, and can be kept by the user or returned to be washed and placed back on the rack. Similar to the green containers – but at no cost. Inspired by a similar program at Kenyon.

Potential to expand this to kitchenware, dishes, forks spoons: culled from Goodwill (who I believe also have a massive surplus of these items) and can be used by students instead of the normal OWU dinnerware if they want to leave with them.

Appendix: WCSA Funding for Campus Initiatives

Information in the WCSA Guidelines about initiative funding. Link to the full guidelines. Contact: Dina Daltorio: Director of Student Involvement (

VI. Initiatives a. WCSA and the Budget Committee are not, in any way, obligated to fund any Initiative. That recommendation by the Budget Committee and the subsequent decision by the WCSA Full Senate are final. b. The Initiative review process is opened at the moment when the current WCSA Treasurer receives a letter (Electronic mail is acceptable, provided proof of receipt can be provided) detailing the entire budget of the project, not simply the portions of the budget with which WCSA funds are being considered and an explanation of the circumstances leading to the pursuit of the WCSA Initiative funding, from the requesting organization; a letter from the most relevant committee as determined by the President of the Student Body, which is not the Budget committee, endorsing the project and explaining why the project is consistent with the Mission Statement and Purpose of the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs unless the requesting organization is an individual student. The requester of initiative funds must attend Budget committee to answer questions of members when called on by the Treasurer, or by the majority of the committee, and must attend the Full Senate when called to answer questions by the President, or the Treasurer, or the Senate. c. The Budget Committee reviews the letter and the request within 10 days of receipt of the aforementioned letter. They give a recommendation to the Full Senate following the conclusion of the Budget Committee discussion and decision. This decision should be made in line with the following Initiative Guidelines. d. The Full Senate responds to the Budget Committee’s recommendation following the established procedures used to address budget requests. e. All approved Initiatives are required to, immediately following the experience, submit a Stewardship Report to the WCSA Treasurer f. WCSA Full Senate, with a two-thirds (2/3) supermajority vote, can overrule the recommendation of Budget Committee and, by means of amendment motions, make their decision final.

g. Campus Experience Initiative (CEI) Appropriate CEI’s will: 1. Serve the entire student body 2. Improve the on-campus student experience 3. Provide an accessible service or an opportunity for experience for all students on campus Examples: Orientation support, counseling services subsidies, Readership programs (Newspaper subscriptions), hydration stations While the recommendation is solely that of the Budget Committee in session, the Budget Committee is encouraged to consider fully funding any request that meets the requirements of a CEI, understanding that any such request will serve a large portion of the student body in an area of great need. Provided that the requesting individual or group has shown that alternative means of funding within the Ohio Wesleyan University structures have failed and that the request, if approved, will benefit the student body significantly and that the Budget Committee agrees that there is a present need for the item(s) in question, the Budget Committee is authorized to fully fund such an Initiative. An individual or group must present a request to the Budget Committee prior to acquiring funds. If the project had already been funded, WCSA will not issue a refund.

h. Personal Development Initiative (PDI) Appropriate PDI’s will: 1. Financially support individuals in missions of personal betterment or advancement 2. Provide, at times, substantial amounts of money for a single individual or small group Note: All initiatives sponsoring off-campus travel by OWU community members must be categorized as PDI’s and treated as such. (Examples: Mission Trips/Spring Break Interfaith Service Teams, Wilderness Treks, Leadershape) Any Initiative request that meets the requirements of a PDI can be funded for, and only for, the following portions of the request: Registration fees, travel costs and lodging costs. The Budget Committee and WCSA can fund up to 50% of the total cost of these three items. Which of these (Registration, travel and/or lodging costs) are funded, to any degree, is up to the recommendation of the Budget Committee and the subsequent decision of the WCSA Full Senate. WCSA will not fund any lodging to events within the Columbus Metropolitan area.