Student volunteers help reduce food waste

Author: Olivia Critchlow


One month per semester, Notre Dame Food Services, GreeND, and the Office of Sustainability team up to run Waste-Free Wednesdays. This event, which runs each Wednesday during the month of November, encourages students to take only what they need from the dining halls and to avoid wasting food. Notre Dame’s dining halls currently create 1.2 tons of food waste per day. The Waste-Free Wednesdays Program is intended to actively reduce this waste and raise awareness. When students return a waste-free tray to the tray return during the event, they are entered into a raffle to win $100 in FlexPoints.

This series of events runs from 6-7pm each week in both North Dining Hall and South Dining Hall. It is run by student volunteers with assistance from dining hall staff. For the first and last weeks of the month-long campaign, Waste-Free Wednesdays includes Waste-n-Weigh. Waste-n-Weigh measures the total food waste per tray to measure progress on the reduction of food waste on campus.

Kate Christian ’15 is the coordinator for Waste-Free Wednesdays in both dining halls and runs the South Dining Hall operation each week. Kate is proud of the progress that has been made, stating, “I’ve been involved with Waste-Free Wednesdays for three years, and it’s always an exciting challenge to reduce food waste in the dining halls. It’s so rewarding to see people excited about committing to food sustainability and making an active effort in the dining halls.”

Our volunteers understand the issue and enjoy committing their time to promote campus sustainability. A regular volunteer, Sean Gervais ’15 said, “Food waste is a serious issue on campus – 1.2 tons per day is crazy – and I know that volunteering for Waste-Free Wednesdays can bring about positive change to Notre Dame.”

Participants are confident that the lessons learned during Waste-Free Wednesdays will be employed year-round. Eileen Murphy ’14 added, “I know it’s important to be mindful of food waste all the time, and Waste-Free Wednesdays are a great way to put people in that mindset.”

Interested in volunteering for the last date of this semester on November 20th or learning more about Waste-Free Wednesdays? Sign up here or send an email to