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UBC Undergraduate Research

Alma Mater Society (AMS) Food Recovery Strategy Woo, Stephanie; Fong, Nathan; Dhalla, Armaan; Becker, John


In Canada, it is estimated that 20% (11 million tonnes) of all the food produced annually becomes avoidable food waste, which entails that this food that could have been eaten, but was landfilled, burned or managed as compost (Climate Change Canada, 2019). Food waste is a key food issue the modern world faces today, and is highlighted as part of Goal 12, Responsible 443 Consumption and Production, in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Specifically, in SDG 12.3, indicating a target of cutting food waste in half per capita at consumer and retail levels, as well as decreasing food losses along supply chains (United Nations, n.d.). The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) quantified data which showed that the amount of food produced on farms is significantly greater than what is necessary for a healthy, productive, and active life for the global population (Lundqvist, de Franiture, & Molden, 2008). Despite the high quantity of food produced, food insecurity still exists and persists especially in lower income populations (Roshanafshar & Hawkins, 2015). Food insecurity is defined as having very limited access to a sufficient amount of affordable, nutritious food (Collins, Gaucher, Power, & Little, 2016). Currently at UBC, it has been found that almost 40% of the student population is food insecure (Nguyen, 2019). The purpose of our research was to address how the leftover edible food from AMS Conferences & Catering can be safely packaged and stored for those who attend the AMS Food Bank rather than going to waste. This project aimed to tackle food waste and food insecurity on campus by assisting the Alma Mater Society (AMS) at UBC in providing recommendations for an appropriate Food Recovery Strategy to reduce food waste on campus and increase access to prepared foods for emergency food relief in the UBC community. The overall project goal was to inform AMS Conferences & Catering (C&C) and the AMS Food Bank of the logistical barriers/challenges in relation to repackaging, storage, and distribution of prepared, uneaten foods, and strategizing ways to overcome these barriers. More specifically, we worked with these organizations to provide recommendations on key areas of a standard operating procedure (SOP) strategy. We addressed our goal by identifying the barriers and risks associated with food recovery. This entailed background planning, identifying processes, project partners and stakeholders required to launch, maintain, and support this program, and identifying expenses (labor) and potential funding opportunities. The proposed research was based on the Community-Based Action Research (CBAR) framework, by which we engaged in a collaborative process with our partners and involved stakeholders who are affected by the issues and research. This was done through acquiring primary data based on interviews with key stakeholders, including AMS C&C and the AMS Food Bank staff, analyzing waste logs of the kitchen used by AMS C&C to quantify the amount of edible and uneaten food wasted, and reviewing the infrastructure provided for the AMS Food Bank and AMS C&C. Secondary data was obtained through researching successful food recovery programs done by other organizations, obtaining data on the amounts of leftover food after events from AMS C&C, doing a literature review by obtaining and citing from scholarly articles, and reviewing food safety guidelines by Vancouver Coastal Health and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Our research outcomes identify common barriers amongst AMS C&C and the AMS Food Bank with infrastructure, labor, consistency, and accountability. Therefore, we have made the following recommendations to further develop a food recovery strategy for AMS C&C and the AMS Food Bank. We recommended immediate action items as follows: establish communication between organizations, apply for our suggested funding opportunities, focus on ambient food recovery and to establish traceability for donated food products. Our long-term action items focus on implementing amendments to the Climate Action Plan and Zero Waste Action Plan, the formation of a food policy on campus, and the development of a prepared food standard operating procedure. With regards to these recommendations, we have also identified potential research opportunities that can help create a food recovery strategy at UBC. Further research into policy identification and ambient food recovery, could lead to it being immediately adapted within the AMS Operations toward a prepared food recovery program. Through this project, the UBC community can come together to address the issues of food waste and food insecurity through systemic and sustainable change. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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