Valencia College’s Culinary Management Program earns sustainability award for their creative practices reducing and reusing food waste.
By Lisa Parrish, GMC Editor
The Culinary Management Program at Valencia College’s Poinciana campus earned an honorable mention for the 2020 Green Award, sponsored by the United Soybean Board, recognizing their efforts to teach culinary students creative practices for reducing and reusing waste.
Dr. Jennifer Denlinger, department chair, explained in her application the program creates many opportunities to reduce food-waste using both customary and creative sustainability procedures. Their goal is to teach students how to contribute to a better, more productive society through the foodservice industry.
The program employs a compost system that includes food scraps, wooden tasting utensils, and shredded newspapers and paper towels among many other items. The compost soil is added to the gardens shared by the culinary management and biology departments and service-learning students. In the garden, culinary students are growing pumpkins from the seeds collected during last year’s Halloween celebrations. Additionally, they are creating a pineapple forest from previously discarded pineapple tops. Marigolds are planted for natural pest control.
The program encourages instructors and students to devise creative uses for food waste. “We hope to give students an active learning environment that promotes the generation of ideas, free from fear of criticism if they do not work out,” said Dr. Denlinger.
Creative waste-reduction ideas employed by students and faculty include making ricotta cheese from old milk, canning fruits and vegetables, and using left-over wine by reducing it and making a wine butter sauce or turning it into vinegar by fermenting it.
“Students are actively encouraged to try new ideas, especially when it comes to using up products in case there is an opportunity to create something unexpected with the food waste,” Dr. Denlinger commented.