Auburn University galvanizes university leaders, students to address food waste on campuses

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Auburn University is leading a gathering of nearly 100 university and multi-sector leaders this week to discuss how universities can take a leadership role in creating zero food waste and hunger free campuses.

Supported by international nonprofit Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a Presidents United to Solve Hunger, or PUSH, Leaders Forum, March 23-24, at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, will focus on food waste and open data – two critical issues that if solved could greatly accelerate global food and nutrition security.

This will be the first time university leaders have gathered to define blueprints to collectively address these issues. Participants will outline practical steps to define how universities can take a leadership role in changing attitudes about the sharing of information and knowledge and reducing consumer and campus-wide food waste.

PUSH is an initiative started by Auburn’s Hunger Solutions Institute in the College of Human Sciences to utilize the collective power of university presidents in the global fight against hunger.

The forum will feature leaders from government, private sector and academia, including an opening address from Tony Hall, executive director emeritus of the Alliance to End Hunger. Hall served the state of Ohio in Congress for more 20 years and then ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

The PUSH event will lead into the 12th annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit and the fourth annual Food Waste and Hunger Summit, also hosted by Walsh, March 24-25. This is the first time The Campus Kitchens Project, a student-powered organization focused on ending food waste by redistributing nutritious, unused foods at universities across the country, and UFWH, a student-focused Auburn initiative formed in partnership with the UN’s World Food Programme in 2004, will join together to mobilize university students to build a more sustainable food system.

More than 300 students are expected to attend the event, dubbed Summit Squared, which will include a Food Waste Workshop where student leaders will be trained in using a multimedia toolkit for “Trash Hunger, Not Food,” an initiative developed by Universities Fighting World Hunger and The Campus Kitchens Project with support from The Rockefeller Foundation.

The toolkit, found at, provides best practices and tools for students as well as administrators to reduce food waste on campuses. Examples include how a pilot project between the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Irvine resulted in a Food Waste Toolkit and Calculator and how The Ohio State University transformed its 105,000-seat football stadium, known as the Horseshoe, into a no waste environment, diverting up to 98 percent of waste from landfills into recycled materials.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.