Manhattan College students should expect a new trending topic on campus; The use of the hashtag #JaspersFoodShare. In order to lessen food waste and encourage students to obtain a free meal, the Student Life directors plan to combat these campus problems one tweet at a time.
After any event, a student or member of the faculty can send a tweet with information on where the food is located on campus and how long it will be out for, along with #JasperFoodShare so other students are able to get a free snack or meal instead of letting the food go to waste.
The idea started with Richard Satterlee, Ph.D., vice president of Student Life, while attending a student affairs forum at a Education Advisory Board (EAB) conference in Washington, D.C. last October. The forum covered hot topics on college campuses.
Food insecurity is a term in which students range from not accessing a proper diet during a school day to something as extreme as going hungry. As Satterlee learned at the EAB conference, 23% of students who attend a 4-year private college experience a form of food insecurity.
“I view this problem as one that can be kind of invisible. Like on a college campus, it’s not easy for someone who is experiencing this to come forward, they may prefer to stay anonymous. There were several solid ideas that [EAB] presented that I thought were good and I came back to my team […] and what I said was ‘I would really like to do something that would make a difference, that we could do right away that wouldn’t be that hard,’” said Satterlee.
The EAB provided examples as to how other colleges have approached this problem. La Salle University in Philadelphia has a physical food pantry with leftover food from events, while Fresno University has a tab on their school’s official app that shows students where there is leftover food on campus.
A hashtag is used at many other campuses and provided the best approach for MC due to their accessibility. Twitter hashtags can also be followed by students to get constant updates.
“Whether this will be perfect, whether it will be tweaked or not is a good question, but the Jasper Food Share is an idea similar to that several schools [have addressed],” said Satterlee.
The student life directors throughout the different divisions are also doing their fair share of promoting the hashtag. Lois Harr, director of Campus Ministry and Social Action, also brings the idea back to De La Salle’s teachings.
“One thing I can think of [in relation to De La Salle], the Brothers would run the schools and children would bring in their lunches, usually a loaf of bread and maybe some cheese or something. The Brothers would make them put their lunches in a basket they would pass around, a big basket and put it on the side,” said Harr.
“At lunchtime, they would pass the basket out and everybody could eat. This all returns to the dignity of the human person and social justice and even not wasting food, which is a huge problem throughout the world. There’s enough food in the world, we just end up wasting a lot of it.”
Harr then addressed how the hashtag would combat food waste.
The first attempt at implementing the hashtag was after the recent new student orientation resource browse in rooms 5B and 5C of the Kelly Commons on Wednesday, Jan. 17. After the event, there was an expected amount of leftovers and Harr, along with the Student Engagement twitter account, tweeted about free leftovers.
The tweet read the following: “The first official Manhattan College #JaspersFoodShare is underway! 5th floor of the Commons, food and drinks remain from the event, open to all to stop by and enjoy!”
“We thought we would try this Twitter thing first and see how we do and see if it worked. We also think that the first time, even if it works, it might be small because it’s new,” said Harr.
Gourmet Dining provided feedback in an email to Harr saying there was “very little food waste” after the event.
John Bennett, director of student development, is expecting the hashtag to soon spread to the Twitter accounts of student clubs and school departments.
“Now it’s not meant just for administrators to tweet out, it’s really meant for and hopefully used by students. [We expect the students to] really take ownership of [the hashtag]. I know we plan to say it to all our clubs and it’ll especially be easier next semester with the bigger club training at the start of year,” said John Bennett.
There are plans in the future of reminding students and faculty about the hashtag when they plan an event and order catering from Gourmet Dining. The directors of the student life division know this is just the start and expect students to use the hashtag frequently.
“There’s so much food wasted on this campus and at no one’s fault […] Whether it’s bottles of water and soda or actual meals or grab-and-go things […] this is a good way for students to tweet out instantly ‘hey there’s extra food left in this room location’ and say ‘come on by.’ It’s meant to be open to all students,” said Bennett
While there is a possibility of a physical food pantry on campus similar to those of other colleges, the hashtag is planned to be the first step.
“It’s typical for events to over-order food, no one wants there to be not enough food. The thought is to push this out to students and say ‘this stuff is leftover’ [after an event]. That really can help somebody that might need food, it’s just as simple as that,” said Satterlee.
Satterlee concluded while adding a sense of admiration as the hashtag is now underway.
“I’m really pleased to have this going forward, it’s not just me that has recognized this problem. There’s been faculty and other people that have said, ‘what are we doing about these issues?’ Trying to figure out what to do about them is not as easy as it may seem but this one place that we can start,” said Satterlee.
CORRECTION (Print version): The print version of this article spelled the hashtag as #JasperFoodShare. The hashtag is supposed to read #JaspersFoodShare. The online version has been edited for this correction.