University of Central Arkansas nursing student Christophe Block, 29, has taken it upon himself to draw fellow students’ attention to an issue, for which he believes all are responsible.

Block has been stationed for the past week at the disposal area of the university’s Christian Cafeteria asking diners to empty organic materials into separate containers to be weighed.

“I’m like a road block,” Block said.

Block is the creator of the Facebook group Conway Food Waste Alliance, which states that Americans throw away more than 25 percent of the food they prepare and waste about 96 billion pounds in food each year. 

According to a 2004 University of Arizona study, 40 to 50 percent of all food ready for harvest never gets eaten. The same study notes that the average family of four tosses out $590 per year in food products.

On the group’s wall, Block has listed examples from his experiment. 

Friday’s total weight of food wasted in three hours was 135 pounds. Block said he collected 100 pounds per hour earlier in the week, but a trend can be seen, he said, as the average weight has gone down.

“It’s made a difference to some students. They are taking less foods. One girl told me she only got three fish sticks instead of the regular serving of four so she would waste less,” Block said.
Block said not only is it cost effective, but he feels he is responsible for the waste he produces.

Dina Dallas, services manager at the Christian Cafeteria, said the facility’s food waste was already cut in half when the administration approved the implementation of the Tray-Less initiative.
The university found a 46 percent reduction in solid waste of food, paper and plastics when students began operating with plates only. Trays are still available for those who wish to use them.

Jim Nabors, senior food service director, said the facility’s food waste has been being reused for years by a pig farmer who picks up the pulverized food waste each morning.
“None of us really know who he is, but he picks it up every day,” Nabors said.

Nabors said he and administrators are glad to have Block, and they support his efforts.
“We’re glad he’s here. We are having our Recycling Mania as well. We’re recycling cardboard, aluminum. We need to be conscious of the footprint we leave behind.”

Executive Chef Robert Hall said he believes Block will have more of an impact on the university’s efforts to become green since he is a peer of the student body.

“We’ve significantly reduced our electricity costs and water use in the past two years. They have fallen dramatically with university efforts. They are half of what they were,” Hall said.

Block has talked with administrators at UCA about incentives for students who actively reduce their food waste, but he has not received word on approval.

Block said this was the first project of his Conway Food Waste Alliance group. He said the group will continue to bring awareness, and they will possibly one day implement food waste reduction wherever possible.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)