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Food Lab Waste Becomes Resource for Campus

Food Lab Waste Becomes Resource for Campus

Posted: September 15, 2017

You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. But what do you do with the shells?

In Caudell Hall, the shells—along with other food waste from the culinary labs used by Hospitality and Tourism students—will be processed and converted to a dry, soil-like mixture that can be used in Buffalo State’s gardens and arboretum.

“I went to the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago when we were planning the renovations to Caudell,” said Stephen Burgeson, clinical lecturer in the Hospitality and Tourism Department, “and I was impressed by the equipment to process food waste.” Burgeson is a certified chef in the American Culinary Federation. He can be found teaching students who work in the kitchen of Campus House during the spring and fall semesters.

However, students take the Campus House practicum only after they have learned their chops in two state-of-the-art food labs in Caudell Hall. When Caudell Hall underwent a $21.2 million renovation, the new labs included one especially for baking; the other is for preparing other foods. Ancillary rooms include spaces for salad preparation, with temperature controls that allow fresh green salads to remain crisp and appetizing for hours.

Every cook knows that, even with the most careful preparation, some waste is inevitable. “That’s especially true if you’re in the hospitality business,” said Burgeson. “If you’re catering an event or preparing food in a hotel or banquet facility,presentation  is critical. Everything must look appetizing for the guests—and for the facility’s reputation.”

While many households put certain food waste (like egg shells) in a compost bin, the equipment used in Caudell accepts other materials including some meat and dairy waste. The three-part system includes a table-mounted pulper to grind the food waste to a slurry; a hydra-extractor to reduce much of the water from the slurry; and a dehydrator that finishes extracting the moisture using high temperatures. “The equipment had to be customized due to the available space,” said Burgeon, “but we wanted to be sure everything we did would be as sustainable and ecofriendly as possible.”

The equipment cuts down on waste products and water usage as well as producing a usable resource for the campus. Lauren Morse, senior staff assistant for Campus Services, is responsible for waste disposal at Buffalo State. ““The big advantage of this equipment is that we’re reducing our trash waste stream,” she said. “We’re repurposing this instead of paying a vendor who would create a carbon footprint by hauling it to a landfill. By reusing it, we’ve taken the product and closed the loop on it.”\

Pictured: Burgeson (left) with Donald A. Schmitter, lecturer of hospitality and tourism, in one of Caudell Hall's new demonstration kitchens.

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