The Bowdoin College Consulting Group’s Dining Project has been working alongside the Dining Service to try and decrease the amount of food waste at Thorne Hall, in an effort focused on increasing awareness of the food students consume.

The group has undertaken a number of audits—two in April and one yesterday—to assess how much waste is accumulated in an average Thorne dinner.

“We make sure the menu is the same each time, to keep the process fair,” said Phillip Wang ’18, a member of the group. “So far, we have found an average waste of 0.24 pounds of waste per person.”

The findings also indicate an increase in waste from 18 to 25 percent for those who use a tray versus those who do not. However, Associate Director of Dining Service Ken Cardone emphasized that few students actually use trays.

“People eat with their eyes, so they tend to pick up more food if they have a tray. Then we see full pieces of fruit, or uneaten sandwiches,” said Cardone. “The amount of students using a tray is decreasing every year, though.”

“Bowdoin Consulting Group found 80 percent of students rarely use a tray, and 60 percent of students never use one,” added Mary Kennedy, director of Dining and Bowdoin Stores.

Currently, the waste from Thorne is used in different ways. Some of the food waste is sent to a company called WeCompost. Bowdoin then buys back the compost at a reduced rate and uses it in some of the college gardens. At least one source of food a day is sent to the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, while some leftovers are used at Super Snack. However, the consulting group still believes food waste at Bowdoin is too high.

“We are implementing a number of strategies to try and reduce food waste,” said Wang. “Our main strategy is advertisement. Our first batch of posters will go out this week, and they emphasize being mindful of food waste and creating awareness.”

The group was also involved with the recent updates to the Bowdoin Dining app. Students can now see if the dining halls are busy, using a color code of red for busy, yellow for not too busy and green for quiet, based on how many students have swiped into each dining hall.

“We had a hunch people would get more food if the dining hall was busy, as they would be less inclined to want to line up again. We worked with Ruben Martinez ’15 to develop the changes; however our main problem right now is that people haven’t updated the app.”

The group hopes to add a banner to the app reminding people to be mindful of food waste, in addition to auditing more dinners in Thorne.

“Our next project is to look at the amount of waste with line servers as opposed to without line servers,” said Whit Seaverns ’18, a member of the group. “We will audit dinner on November 12 without line servers, then repeat the menu but with line servers on December 10. We are also developing a portion guide for line servers, which will hopefully equalize portions.”

“It will be very interesting to look at these results, as it is something we haven’t audited before,” said Kennedy. “The Bowdoin Consulting Group has been very helpful in providing us with data, which helps us to assess the amount of waste we have and how we can reduce it. They are a very talented group of people.”

The group has been around for many years, but was revived in the fall of 2014. Their other projects on and off campus include a networking project and a Chegg project.

“A different subsection of the group is currently working with Chegg, to see how we can most efficiently provide textbooks to students. There will be a survey out shortly to assess how students feel about Chegg,” said Wang. “We also have a networking project, in which members of our group are assigned Bowdoin alumni contacts in the consulting field. Not only are we making connections with them, but we are using the data we collect to provide information to Career Planning about different firms, experiences and contacts within consulting.”