Final Reflections Blog (4/9/13)

It went something like this: “Do you know what we are doing here today? We are running a food waste awareness campaign. We formed partnerships with a couple local bakeries and restaurants and they donated food to us that they would have thrown out last night. All the food you see here would instead be in landfills today. We are bringing it to you so you see how perfectly edible, delicious and nutritious it still is… Do you have an idea about how much food waste we produce as a nation?”… 

Amazingly, most people paid close attention to what I had to say. Never before had I been to an event where people actually wanted to learn more – maybe because food is so near and dear to our hearts that the thought of all that yummy food being in the trash was something that they just couldn’t make sense of. I am pretty sure that, for that moment with us, our audience felt repulsed and angry, and wanted to change their behavior and the behavior of others. It is hard to say what happened to each individual as they walked away – did they retain our message and work on their habits; or did they munch away on the bagel and move on to whatever they were dwelling on before? Impossible as this is to answer, I hope that our choice of giveaways has a direct impact with our audience at home.

I thoroughly enjoyed our event and believe we accomplished what we set out to do. We have learned a whole lot about food waste and have passed that knowledge on to others in our community. Within the time span that we had to complete this project this semester (very brief 3 months), I could not be more satisfied with our most important deliverable – a sharp yet simple event that was created by each and every one of us and executed to a measure barely short of perfection.

I am very proud to have been part of this project and feel blessed to have been a part of this class – for all that I have learned and for having met some amazing individuals who renew my faith in humankind and let me believe that one day, food waste will have been history. (Sarah Muller)

Continued Encouragement (4/8/13)

As our class nears the end, I sit here reflecting on the lessons learned along the way. At the start of GlobalPENNovation, I must admit I was extremely unaware of the global issue of food waste. Twelve weeks later, I am by no means an expert on the issue but I feel this overwhelming sense of desire to continue to try to make a difference. Whether the difference I make is becoming involved in external interest and/or volunteer groups, or if I continue with my own personal strides to change my behaviors and attitudes about food, food waste and food recovery, only time will tell.

The guest speakers and resources we have been exposed to were absolutely wonderful, and shared thoughtful knowledge and insight that I will always remember. For me, what really helped me understand food waste and what we as consumers can do about it were the tons of consumer tips we discovered during the course. Most of the tips were very clear, and seemed almost so simple, that I felt silly that I did not consider them beforehand. For instance, being a busy individual with work, school and other activities, time is a huge factor. Many times, I would go to the grocery store with not much thought of pre-planning meals. In turn, I would sometimes overbuy perishable products which ended in waste. How could I solve this problem? The answer for me was pre-planning a grocery trip with scheduled meals throughout the week, or batch cooking on a free weekend day and freezing meals. The freezer has become my new best friend. There are so many things you can freeze to extend shelf life – overripe bananas, soon to be stale breads and/or bagels, homemade gravies or sauces, the list is endless. In addition, the statistics I learned relative to food waste was a huge eye opener. It amazes me that 40% of the food produced is wasted, and that wasted food could ultimately solve world hunger. I’m shocked that the food wasted could fill the Rose Bowl. These statistics are still hard for me to grasp. If we have all of this food available, why wouldn’t we be salvaging it? We could easily kill two birds with one stone and help millions of hungry individuals.

Through my learning’s, I can positively say that my consumer behaviors have changed for the better. I continue to spread awareness on a daily basis to friends and family. When they hear about the efforts we have made to spread this awareness to the local Penn community, they are amazed at the issue themselves. Food waste is one of those issues, to me, I feel people are just unaware of.  They do not know the statistics that I have been exposed to (really only through signing up for this Organizational Dynamics class). I am continuously grateful that after reading the course syllabus and being intrigued, that I registered. I feel very encouraged and have a positive outlook that the global issue of food waste, one day, will be diminished. By creating awareness through education, we can hopefully change the mind set of one individual at a time. (Win Preechawutthidech)

I can’t say enough…(4/7/13)

Seriously, I can’t say… at least not very effectively. You see, I am generally a quiet person, so talking for almost two straight hours about food waste has left my voice somewhat coarse. So, since I’m temporarily impaired from speaking, I’m going to write this blog.

Event Photo - Full Group 1
Org Dynm 615, armed with free food and powerful information

Our food waste awareness event was an amazing success. Our project team, also known as DYNM615 in the Organizational Dynamics program, put together a feast of excess food by collecting donations from local vendors. Even after a semester of studying the global food waste issue, we were amazed at the amount of quality food that was heading for the landfill. Armed with totes, magnets, and T-shirts in addition to A LOT of food, we invited students to stop by for some free gifts and food. Shortly after setting up, we had a crowd of people stopping at our table.

Event Photo Our Table and Students in Action
Org Dynm 615, armed with free food and powerful information

I had expected that giving away free food would attract hungry college students, so the crowd didn’t surprise me much. However, what did surprise me was that after people realized why we were there and understood that the food giveaways were originally destined for the landfill… they didn’t leave. A highly energized project team told the story of food waste over and over. Guests leaned in to be able to hear the team members over the crowd noise. Some people asked to be contacted for future efforts, others asked follow-up questions to better understand how this could be true, and many just shook their heads in disbelief. Facial expressions told the story fully, as guests at our table displayed emotions of shock, disgust, and in some cases, anger.

Do I think that raising awareness will change behaviors? If this event is any indication, you bet it will!

The amount of food we collected from just a few vendors was appalling. The use of technology to spread the word via websites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter was phenomenal. The video was superb and highly impactful. The production of “free giveaways” items from design through deliver was excellent. The energy, teamwork, and cohesive effort to make an impact on this global issue were unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Even if I had my voice fully intact, I still wouldn’t be able to say enough about this project team and what they accomplished through the Spring 2013 semester and on the afternoon of Thursday, April 4, 2013…