How One UK Student Started Food Waste Collection in a Residence Hall

Sometimes environmental issues seem too big for one person to make a difference. Food waste can be one of those topics. Thankfully, Caleb Gooden, a Sophomore at UK, decided to try and do something about food waste generated by UK Students living on campus.

Food should be viewed as a resource, not a wasted material, and our UK students understand that. As a coordinator of innovation for Student Government Association (SGA) Caleb wanted to start a food waste program at University Flats.

Food waste collection container, Grubby

Students participating in the program receive a free food waste collection container, affectionally named Grubby. Students then empty their container into a large container in the compactor room.

“During my work in food service and for Campus Kitchen at UK, I saw behind the scenes into the amount of food waste that is actually produced by people, and once you see it up close it’s pretty staggering. My roommate, Addison Lander, had taken notice of this as well and wanted a way to fight the vast waste production. Many students, including myself, want to be part of change but are unsure of where to start. This project provides an easy and free way to get that start. We have seen an increase in participation and received numerous questions about composting or environmental policies at UK. It is refreshing to see this many students taking an interest, educating themselves and working to make a difference.”

Caleb Gooden, Sophomore at University of Kentucky

Learn more about UK’s food waste program by checking out our compost video.

Think about your own food waste. If you live on campus, leave a comment below if you are interested in composting at your residence hall!

Joanna Ashford

Joanna has served as the Recycling Coordinator for the University of Kentucky since 2018. She continues to work with campus partners to minimize waste and find creative solutions to waste generated. As staff advisor for Lexington Environmental Youth Outreach, Joanna is passionate about environmental education and outreach!


  • This is so cool! I think I saw food waste bins in the Cornerstone Exchange too. Is that UK Recycling?

    • Hey Shane! Yes! UK Recycling has partnered with our new Cornerstone Exchange partners to collect their food scraps, coffee grounds and fruit peels! We are very excited to see these programs expand on campus!

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