FARMINGTON — Wednesday was Waste Day at the University of Maine at Farmington.

It was about raising awareness of trash recycling and food waste, UMF Sustainability Coordinator Luke Kellett said.

About 40 bags of trash, collected over 24 hours from residence halls, were sorted on Mantor Green.

“It’s disgusting,” said student Jackie Rose, as her gloved hands sifted through the refuse.

Volunteers from the Sustainable Campus Coalition and the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area combed the bags, sorting potential recyclables into piles.

In previous years, about 20 percent of the waste was found to be recyclable, Kellett said. 

This year, the day also centered on awareness of food waste and food hunger.

Students, eating in the campus dining hall, were asked to scrape the leftovers from their plates to raise awareness of what they were throwing away. 

The campus produces 2,000 pounds — 30 garbage containers of food waste — each week, Kellett said. The food waste is composted.

The food service stopped using trays a few years ago to limit the amount of food taken but not eaten, he said.

The freedom to take items along with their “eyes being bigger than their stomachs,” were reasons offered for the waste by Catherine Dufault, UMF student and food intern, as she directed students to swipe their plates.

If not taken and wasted, the food could benefit others who are hungry, she said.

Dufault started a program last spring whereby leftovers from the cafeteria are taken to the local homeless shelter. The program will restart in a few weeks, she said.

She also planned to open a food pantry on campus for students in need. That will become a reality in a few weeks, she said. Space in the computer center has been partitioned off for the food pantry, along with a thrift store for students, she said.

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