The Refectory has wasted nearly £50 worth of food every day for eight months, this newspaper can reveal.
According to figures from a Freedom of Information request submitted by this newspaper, more than £11,000 worth of food may have been wasted over this period.
In correspondence, the University also revealed that food waste is “not given to charities”.
One former Refectory employee told Leeds Student they were unsurprised by the figures:
“There were proper wholesome meals, tons of salad, whole pizzas…big vats of fresh goulash and stuff which they serve up into pots that could have easily gone to charity. It’s just ridiculous.”
They continued: “Staff aren’t allowed to take home food at the end of the day, they’d prefer it to go to waste and it’s just scandalous. There are people out on the streets starving, yet thousands of pounds worth of food is wasted and I’ve seen it with my own eyes. They just sling it in the bin.”
This revelation comes almost exactly a year after a Better University Forum idea was passed, which promised to reduce food waste in the Refectory.
Student Rachel Coles proposed the University should “stop the vast food waste which occurs in the Refectory restaurant everyday”.
Speaking to Leeds Student, Coles said: “Their blatant disregard of the motion just reinforces to me that their existence on campus is purely to operate as a business with maximum revenue rather than meeting the needs and wishes of students.”
In her original motion Coles claimed: “Staff are not allowed to eat or take home to food as they can be prosecuted for theft.”
Union Affairs Officer, Antony Haddley, told this paper of the difficulties of pushing through Better University Forum ideas:
“When any idea gets put forward to the Better University Forum it is generally much harder to implement than in the Union- the same goes for Better Leeds Forum. That’s because we don’t control those systems.”
He continued: “Although we have a great partnership with the University, often we can come across a brick wall where some systems that they control can’t be flexible to fit around the new policy.
“The Union has got to be a lot better at communicating what work has been done on policy.”
A spokesperson from the University said: “We cannot give unpackaged food waste away to charities, as this would not be in compliance with Food Safety and Environmental guidelines. In terms of pre-packaged foods, we are legally obliged to follow all ‘Use by’ dates displayed on applicable foods. We also follow all ‘Best before’ dating which is a guarantee of food quality.”
Since this paper submitted the original FOI, the University has arranged the donation of left-over pre-packaged food.
“We have recently linked up with LUU so that any pre-packaged food remaining after 10pm will be sent to Saint George’s Crypt, a homeless charity in the city centre.”
Ellie Parkes and Lucy Snow
Image: Leo Garbutt