In an attempt to combat campus food insecurity, Student Kitchen Coalition, StopWaste Alameda County, the UC Berkeley Food Pantry and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 3299 partnered to serve 126 meals to people on campus and unhoused individuals at a pop-up kitchen event.
Replate served as the vendor for the event. It event was scheduled to take place Feb. 26 from noon to 2 p.m., but they ran out of meals in 40 minutes. Former ASUC senator Teddy Lake and student volunteers worked together to hand out the meals. They were joined by Valerie Brown, who works for Cal Dining.
“Food waste is something I care a lot about,” Lake said. “I see it as the most tangible way that students can measurably reduce basic needs insecurity and create an environment where everyone has what they need to be a student and function.”
A major challenge, according to Lake, who now works for the Berkeley Student Food Collective, is that while there are sufficient resources, they are not being dispersed adequately. As a result, Lake said, it is more difficult for individuals to make the most of what they have.
In hopes of mitigating food waste, Lake encouraged the use of recovered food. For example, Lake mentioned bringing home leftover pastries from a coffee shop or food from a salad bar to share with others.
“Recovered food is food that would have otherwise been wasted due to excess, not due to spoilage or some kind of contamination,” Lake said, adding that there is often a negative association with recovered food.
The event was Brown’s first time working with the Student Kitchen Coalition, during which she cooked with recovered food. About 98% of the food came from campus dining halls and local restaurants.
Brown said before the event she was less aware of the variety of resources available on campus and the pop-up kitchen helped her become more cognizant of the waste in the campus dining halls. Despite her personal realization regarding available resources, other students may still not be as aware, according to Brown.
“With so many of our students facing food insecurity, events like this are really necessary,” said UC Berkeley senior Sarah Abdeshahian in an email.
Abedshahian, who attended the event to support Lake’s efforts, added that she was particularly impressed with the work being done by the Student Kitchen Coalition.
Lake said the Student Kitchen Coalition has two more events planned in March and April, during which it plans to use recovered food to prevent waste.
“I’ve always envisioned for this campus students and workers united to make the campus a better place to study and to work,” Lake said.