Clean­ers cut waste by eat­ing left­overs

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By ZHAO RUIXUE in Yan­tai, Shan­dong, and ZHAO XINYING in Bei­jing

Can­teen work­ers at a col­lege in East China have won ap­plause for giv­ing stu­dents a les­son in the value of food — by eat­ing their left­overs.

Seven clean­ers have been credited with cut­ting the amount of wasted food at Yan­tai Univer­sity’s No 7 can­teen by as much as 50 per­cent.

Piao Longhuan came up with his “clean plate” cam­paign in May af­ter notic­ing a lot of food, par­tic­u­larly sta­ples such as rice and steamed buns, were be­ing thrown away un­touched.

He per­suaded his six col­leagues, all in their 50s and 60s, to col­lect un­eaten left­overs and use them for lunch or din­ner.

“I know the feel­ing of hunger, and I think it’s a shame to waste food,” cleaner Zhou Lisheng said.

The 61- year- old, who ar­rived at the col­lege af­ter mov­ing to Shan­dong prov­ince from his na­tive Hei­longjiang prov­ince more than a decade ago, said he had ex­pe­ri­enced famine when he was young.

“Also, I used to be a farmer, and I know how much ef­fort goes into grow­ing and har­vest­ing grain and veg­eta­bles,” he said, adding that cher­ish­ing food is a tra­di­tional virtue of Chi­nese cul­ture.

Al­though not ev­ery­one supports the en­deavor — Luo Gu­osheng, whose fa­ther works at the can­teen, said the prac­tice is “un­healthy” — it has made an im­pact on many stu­dents.

I know the feel­ing of hunger, and I think it’s a shame to waste food. I used to be a farmer, and I know how much ef­fort goes into grow­ing and har­vest­ing grain and veg­eta­bles.” ZHOU LISHENG CLEANER AT YAN­TAI UNIVER­SITY’S NO 7 CAN­TEEN

“We used to fill con­tain­ers that had a ca­pac­ity of 600 liters with left­overs ev­ery day,” can­teen man­ager Zhang Cheng­ping said. “Af­ter stu­dents learned about the clean­ers’ ef­forts, the vol­ume has de­creased to 300 liters a day.”

Xu Chun­ran, an ac­count­ing ma­jor at Yan­tai Univer­sity, said she al­ways cleared her plate but class­mates of­ten used to leave food.

“Now, learn­ing from the clean­ers, many have picked up the habit of clear­ing their plates,” she said.

Yu Zengzhong, another stu­dent, said he had learned a lot from the clean­ers, and he de­cided to buy the ap­pro­pri­ate amount of food and try to fin­ish it all to avoid waste.

Since Novem­ber, Yan­tai Univer­sity has held a se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties to pro­mote thrift and fight against waste, and some of the seven clean­ers were in­vited to share their sto­ries on thrift with stu­dents.

“No left­overs means stu­dents don’t waste food any­more, and I will be glad to hear that,” said Wu Minghua, 62, who was a pri­mary school teacher be­fore start­ing work as a can­teen cleaner.

The United Na­tions Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion launched a cam­paign in Geneva in Jan­uary, call­ing on peo­ple to save food and re­duce waste.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion also re­leased a no­tice in Fe­bru­ary, ask­ing all schools to nur­ture a sense of thrift among stu­dents and to pro­mote the “clear your plate” cam­paign among them. Con­tact the writ­ers at zhaoruixue@chi­

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