The Missouri Students Association, in collaboration with Campus Dining Services, the Residence Halls Association and the Environmental Leadership Office, kicked off its first Earthright Week in dining halls across campus on Monday.
Events included dinner with local farmers, a taste-before-you-waste food day, a wasted food buffet, a documentary film showing and a visit to Bradford Farm.
Earthright Week is the realization of a promise made during MSA President Nick Droege’s and MSA Vice President Zach Beattie’s campaign and was coordinated largely by MSA Chief of Staff Gunnar Johanson.
“At the end of the semester (the MSA executive board) did an update, we looked at (Droege and Beattie’s) slate, we looked at things we wanted to accomplish as a cabinet, and we noticed that we hadn’t really done anything about the dining sustainability awareness idea,” Johanson said. “So they tasked me to come up with an idea for it.”
Johanson said the week was the face of the initiative to make students aware of everything CDS does.
CDS Marketing manager Michael Wuest said he helped coordinate the project, keeping the group focused and heading toward a realistic goal.
“I’ve basically been the organizer of the entire event,” Wuest said. “I’ve been the liaison between the different groups, (letting) students know what we could do and not do. I knew what would be most effective in the different units and what we should educate students on.”
Environmental Leadership Office adviser Amy Eultgen said she was excited to hear about MSA’s idea for a CDS awareness week, and that the organization had already been working on a similar project. This shared interest led the organizations to collaborate together.
“We said ‘Hey, this is perfect,’ because we already have a farm tour planned, and each month we have a different initiative,” Eultgen said. “October is our food awareness month … and (now Earthright’s) culminating event is farm tour we have on Saturday.”
CDS, prior to Earthright Week, had already made several gains in the realm of becoming more environmentally responsible and efficient.
“By 2011, we went trayless,” Wuest said. “We also put into play our composting program, so that we can take food scraps and take them out to Bradford … We (also) work with a lot of local vendors to supply us with cheeses, toasted raviolis, meat, vegetables, and other items that are produced here in Missouri, and we buy a pretty substantial amount.”
Eultgen said that the ELO worked with CDS in its effort to go trayless, explaining the logic behind the shift.
“That first and foremost cut out a lot of food waste,” Eultgen said. “Now … they are encouraged to make multiple trips. I think that helps with food waste reduction.”
Johanson said that he hopes students will come away from Earthright Week with a greater understanding of what CDS does and will be more mindful in their future eating habits.
“I hope that (students) really get engaged with everything that CDS is doing in the dining halls, and help be aware of how much food they throw away, what CDS does to increase sustainability and recycle food waste,” Johanson said. “(I hope they will learn) to think and eat consciously … We’re really encouraging students to think before they take.”
Wuest echoed Johanson in asserting the importance of being a more conscious eater.
“The big thing is think about what you consume, be mindful of what you eat,” Wuest said. “Be mindful of waste, not only food waste, napkins, and other items out there, be mindful of that and do the research and ask for more local programs.”
Eultgen said that she praises the MSA and CDS for successfully coordinating between so many different organizations simultaneously and hopes Earthright Week can grow into something bigger and better in the years to come.
Johanson said that this collaboration with CDS has strengthened the relationship between the two entities, and is hopeful that this relationship will continue to grow when the new MSA president takes the reigns this coming January.