UT football fans may not think about the tons of food being wasted at every single game, but Texas Athletics does. This year, Texas Athletics partnered with the Central Texas Food Bank to donate leftover catering food to families in need.
Operations and Sustainability Coordinator Lauren Lichterman said about 1.2 pounds of food is equal to one meal. To date, not including the game against Texas Tech University last Friday, 1.48 tons of food have been donated this year, which is about 2,500 meals.
Lichterman said the food is donated instead of disposed of sustainably because Texas Athletics believes it’s important to take an extra step to help people in need.
“People are more important than trash,” Lichterman said. “This is a community, and we’re all about the relationship we have with the community. We want to do the right thing and not the quick thing, and it’s right to help our community.”
If people saved one-fourth of the food being wasted globally, 870 million hungry people could be fed. Lichterman said this is a fact that drives her.
“It just pushes me because we live in a world where people should be helping each other,” Lichterman said. “There’s a quote, ‘You don’t have to help everybody, start by helping one person,’ so the impact you have as one person may not dramatically impact the world, but it could change one person’s life — and we’ve changed 2,500 people’s lives.”
Food that was never served is stored in an industrial-sized refrigerator near the main loading docks and picked up by the food bank the Monday following a game.
“The fridge has been full basically every single game,” Lichterman said. “If we can find a spot for a second fridge, we could donate even more food next season.”
Alicia Willoughby, international relations and global studies freshman, said she believes the partnership with the food bank is a step in the right direction.
“As a student, that makes me extremely happy and proud to hear that UT has given back in this way,” Willoughby said. “Thousands of tons of food are wasted just at UT alone, so the fact that Texas Athletics is doing something to curb our food waste is fantastic. It’s even better that thousands of people are being fed in the process.”
This is one of Texas Athletics’ many projects to help the University become zero waste by 2020. Sustainability studies sophomore Katherine Trujillo is a part of the Campus Environmental Center, which is one of the groups that volunteers to help sort other waste produced during games.
“This is great to show that even big operations like a football game can divert huge amounts of waste,” Trujillo said.
The donations are not being given to gain recognition, Lichterman said, but because it is the right thing to do.
“We hope we have some sort of influence on changing the world for the better,” Lichterman said. “I don’t know if we will, but all we can do is our part.”