Every day, Jewell students choose a side of the dining room, eat their food, laugh with friends and scrape their plates into the small trashcans by the tray line. But what happens next? Fresh Ideas Food Service at William Jewell College has fully committed itself to sustainability through recycling, expediency and collaboration with the community. The process begins in the kitchen.

As the culinary staff prepares our food before every meal, they have the entire kitchen area organized to accommodate two waste receptacles. First are the “black bag” trashcans. The black bags are specifically used to contain all non-recyclable items that cannot be used any further by the school. Before being disposed of, these bags are taken to a small room in the bottom floor of the Union and sorted to ensure that no recyclable items are missed. The remaining items in the black bags are then taken directly to the trash receptacle behind the Union.

Though the process adds a significant level of time commitment to the process, “the process is worth it in the long-term,” said Kiki Strecker, catering director at Jewell.

Second are the “green bags.” These same bags we scrape our uneaten food into in the cafeteria are taken downstairs to check for items that will make recycling more difficult. Because glass is both a safety concern and a liability issue, the College makes sure that all glass is disposed of with the black bags.

Fresh Ideas encourages students to take part in the sustainability of their cafeteria and the food that passes through it.

“Leftovers that cannot be utilized in other ways are composted, along with paper products. When in the dining hall, please place organic waste in the blue ‘compost’ waste cans. This will be diverted from the landfill, composted and returned to campus for use in our landscaping and community garden,” according to the Jewell Dining Services website.

According to Dining Services, every aspect of the jobs in the Cage, Perch and cafeteria is influenced by sustainability policies. Students are encouraged to put on their plates only what they believe they will eat to avoid increased waste of food and any unnecessary additional preparation for future meals. In order to aid in this process, Dining Service members all eat their meals after the dining hall has closed in order to avoid unnecessary leftovers.

According to the World Resources Institute, approximately 33 percent of the food produced across the globe every year is wasted. In the U.S. alone, up to 40 percent of our food goes completely unused. In the end, this can total up to 20 pounds of food per person per month.

The Jewell cafeteria reportedly takes every opportunity it has to “stay green.”

“Every aspect of the dining process at Jewell is designed to promote sustainability. While other schools use styrofoam plates on visitor days, a far cheaper alternative, we ensure that every item that can be recyclable will be recycled,” said Strecker.

Jewell’s “Green and Go” program seeks to ensure that any item used by Jewell Dining Services, from boxes to tumblers, are recycled or reused. The process isn’t always easy to maintain. Because the company that handles the waste from our cafeteria has strict limitations, Dining Services managers have to put in extra work to ensure that what we send to be recycled will be responsibly managed.

“Glass and misplaced non-recyclable items have to be sorted on a daily basis. Although it adds a significant amount of work to sustain this process, we believe that it is worth every cent,” said Strecker.

For more information, you can visit the Fresh Ideas website.