Students Compete to Reduce Food Waste


Ms. Marcie Wistar

Pythians wasted less food over the three days of the SEA Food Waste Challenge.

Last week, students had an extra incentive to clean their plates at dinner. Wasting food jeopardized their team’s chances of winning the latest competition between Olympians and Pythians (O&P).
The Student Environmental Action Club (SEA) started an initiative this year to reduce food waste that ran from last Wednesday to Friday. Club heads Shine Lee ’20 and Meghana Annamaneni ’21 organized the competition along with Mrs. Marcie Wistar, director of student activities, and Mr. Mike Webster, general manager of dining services. Two different bins were set out each night for compost, and students placed their food waste into the bin belonging to their team.
Every night, the team whose bin contained fewer pounds of food waste received 500 points. Olympians won the first night, with three fewer pounds of waste. Pythians took the second night by six pounds. Pythians won the third night again by five pounds.
One-third of all food produced in the world is wasted, which is about 1.3 billion pounds – enough to feed 3 billion people. Every year, consumers in first-world countries waste almost as much food as sub-Saharan Africa produces. This initiative encouraged students to become more mindful of these realities by utilizing the competitive nature of the rivalry between Olympians and Pythians.
SEA had the idea for an initiative focused on food waste for a long time, but the revival of O&P made this year ideal to launch the competition. Lee said, “The point of the contest is to build incentive for the school to reduce [food] waste. The goal is not just for your team to win, but for the whole school to work together to reduce waste.”
Although students were not monitored to make sure they put their waste in the assigned bins, Stella Ren ’22 said, “I think the Hotchkiss community has enough integrity not [to] cheat, especially because this is just a friendly competition.”
Students did raise concerns about the fairness of the competition, as the classes of 2020 and 2022 have about 60 more people than the classes of 2021 and 2023. The results were not adjusted to account for this difference.
SEA is already hard at work on future events, including an exhibition with ink., while continuing their open meetings. They are also working with Admission Office to run presentations on the biomass facility for prospective students during Open Houses.
The club recently held a joint meeting with the Black and Hispanic Student Association (BaHSA) to discuss environmental justice and racism on November 14.