Feeding the 5000 Chapel Hill

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Date(s) - 22/October/2014
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

University of North Carolina

Co-organized by Carolina Dining Services and Feeding the 5,000, the event catalyzed action on food waste and worked to “give all food purpose.” The goal was to illustrate the unimaginable quantity of food that goes to waste in the world and empower the UNC community on how to think about, reduce and manage food waste. The anti-food waste phenomenon started in Germany and in cities around the world including London, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin and Sydney among others.

In preparation for feeding the public, Carolina Dining Services team members went gleaning at farms around North Carolina, salvaging fruit and vegetables left on the field due to failing retailer’s strict cosmetic standards or overproduction. The effort was directed by Feeding the 5,000 Founder, Tristram Stuart, winner of the international environmental award, The Sophie Prize 2011, for his fight against food waste. Michael Gueiss, Executive Chef of Carolina Dining Services, led the food preparation.

The menu included a curry made from surplus vegetables including misshapen potatoes, wonky carrots and blemished tomatoes that were cast out because they were not cosmetically perfect or were surplus to requirement, as well as a range of dishes, including Brunswick Stew, Jamaican Fish Chowder and Fruit Cobbler.

The community was also welcomed to participate in a discussion on these issues later that evening in the Carolina Union Auditorium from 6:15 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. with Stuart, Sea to Table Director Sophie Waskow Rifkin and Jonathan Bloom, author of “American Wasteland.”

Needless to say, the event was a HUGE success! 7,500 people were fed and over 10,000 pounds of food were diverted from landfills!

The event won awards – NACUFS Gold Award in the category of ‘Outreach and Education’ in the 2015 Sustainability Awards contest and in the running for the overall Grand Prize!

‘ I can personally attest that never in my 15 years of food service, have I received this level of cooperation and positive remarks for a dining event. Planning this event is proving to be one of the most enjoyable undertakings we’ve underwent, producing many new relationships with many people that are doing a lot of good in our community.’

‘Feeding the 5,000 at UNC-CH has brought the impact of food waste to light in a way as never before seen by our entire community. Furthermore calling attention to the “low hanging fruit” that is food waste as it relates to global food security and by ending such wasteful habits and practices, we can ensure there’s enough food for all. Prior to this meal/event everyone here knew that wasting food was bad, and now they know why. We’ll continue to conduct smaller versions of our own “Feeding the 500” meals each semester and may even host another Feeding the 5,000 in the near future as part of a Food Security initiative that encompasses the entire UNC University system of 16 Colleges and Universities. (Ryan Moore- University of North Carolina, Carolina Dining Services | Food Service Director)