By Vanessa Farquharson
Ryerson’s cafeterias are throwing away bags of leftover food each day while the homeless and less fortunate surrounding the campus go hungry.
An employee from the Jorgenson Hall cafeteria, who asked not to be named for fear of losing his job, said he was shocked at how much food went to waste each day.
He has been quietly taking as much leftover food as he can to some homeless people nearby after the cafeteria closes.
John Corallo, director of ancillary services, says the amount of food Ryerson’s cafeterias throw out is “very, very little.”
“We’re cooking to order,” said Corallo, “so in terms of the volume we throw out at the end of the day, it might be two or three muffins, one or two sandwiches.”
But when the Eyeopener visited Pitman Hall cafeteria five minutes before closing this past Friday, this wasn’t the case.
At 6:55 p.m. four salads, 10 sushi boxes, 15 sandwiches, 20 desserts, and 12 dinner rolls remained.
A few students were purchasing dinners, most of which were hot meals like pasta and meat dishes. Some others were getting teas and coffees.
“We try to order our food depending on various factors,” said Ryan Lloud-Craig, food services manager. “For example, during exam time, we order less.”
Corallo said Ryerson has looked into alternatives for its leftover cafeteria food but, because there is so little, no one will come and take it.
This is partly true. Toronto’s largest leftover food charity is Second Harvest. This organization, which Corallo says Ryerson has already investigated, picks up unused food from restaurants, hotels and other institutions and drops it off at various soup kitchens around the city.
But in order for Second Harvest to send a truck, there must be enough leftover food to feed 50 people. As well, most of the delivery trucks turn back at around 3:30 p.m., hours before Ryerson’s cafeterias close.
The other problem is that nearby shelters like Covenant House or food banks, like the one in Jorgenson Hall, only accept non-perishable donations.
However, Ryerson’s sandwiches, salads and other prepared foods would be welcome at the soup kitchen in the Church of the Redeemer at Bloor Street and Avenue Road.
“We take whatever we can get,” said Wendy McCaroll Gallegos, who coordinates the church’s soup kitchen.
McCaroll Gallegos said there was no minimum food donation. As long as someone is willing to drop off the food, the church will accept it.
Corallo said he is willing to lend a hand if students want to take an active role.
“If there’s a group of students that want to pick up leftover food at the end of the day and take it to one of these soup kitchens, I don’t mind arranging it,” he said.
The University of Toronto — an institution with more than enough leftovers — is even closer to the Church of the Redeemer’s soup kitchen, but makes no food contribution. Scott Jahnke is a U of T student and helps McCaroll Gallegos run this kitchen.
“U of T puts all of its leftover food into a large bin. Then it pays pig farms to pick it up, who then feed it to the pigs,” said Jahnke.
“There are hungry people less than a few blocks away who would eat it and the university wouldn’t have to pay anyone,” he said.
Although U of T chooses to give its leftovers to pigs rather than people, its students are concerned about hunger issues.
One such group is U of T WATCH, which helps the Church of the Redeemer run its kitchen.
There is no student group at Ryerson completely focused on helping the homeless or hungry, except the food room, which is catered towards students.