Campus Joins National Food Recovery Challenge

Humboldt State University has joined colleges around the country for the Food Recovery Challenge, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiative to reduce food waste.

Over the next year, HSU and 58 other schools nationwide—including the University of California, Berkeley; Arizona State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas—will adopt practices that reduce the environmental impact of food production and consumption. Activities include recycling, modifying food purchasing, production and handling practices, reducing excessive portion size and donating to those in need.

“This program allows us to continue our efforts to reduce the amount of food waste we send to the landfill and continue to educate campus and the community about steps they can take to reduce their environmental impact,” HSU Sustainability & Waste coordinator Morgan King says.

Campus wide initiatives to reduce food waste include the food diversion program, a partnership between Dining Services, Campus Recycling and the Sustainability Office that diverts 17 tons of food waste and food soiled paper a month from the county landfill. Pre- and post-consumer food waste is collected from Jolly Giant Commons, the South Campus Marketplace, six compost bins in high traffic areas on campus, and from football games and other large events. Collected food waste is then sent to Cold Creek Compost, a commercial composting facility outside of Ukiah. Morgan says that within a year, the material is expected to feed an anaerobic biodigester in Eureka, which will generate electricity and a soil amendment.

The Waste Reduction & Resource Awareness Program (WRRAP) is another campus initiative that collects food waste and food soiled paper—approximately 20,000 pounds a year—from residence halls, student-run coffee stands, campus events, offices and departments. The program recently implemented a Green Event Certificate that allows campus groups and departments to receive green event certification by implementing zero waste measures.

Through the end of the semester, the university will host two food drives in partnership with Food for People, the Humboldt County food bank. The first drive, facilitated by the Center for Service Learning and Academic Internships, runs now through Dec. 6, with bins in high traffic areas. The second drive—organized by Campus Recycling—will take place in the residence halls from Dec. 10 until the end of the semester.

The Food Recovery Challenge is part of the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, an initiative to reduce the environmental impact of materials, from how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used and disposed.

For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge, visit