New MarqEats program helping reduce food waste one meal at a time

A new program at Marquette University is reducing food waste while providing extra nourishment for students on campus. MarqEats, a collaboration between Sodexo Dining Services, Inc. and the Division of Student Affairs, was designed to divert safe, edible food to students in the Alumni Memorial Union on days where there are excess meals.

“Catered events tend to have a lot of leftovers because planners don’t want to run out during the program,” says Christine Little, manager of campus food recovery and assistance. “Programs like MarqEats, which a lot of universities are implementing, allow us to care for our community and the earth by reducing our carbon footprint and feeding people.”

Any student can take advantage of the program by signing up in CheckMarq. Texts are sent to participants by catering staff that specify the type of food available, for how long and the where in the AMU it can be picked up. To-go boxes are provided as well.

Little says the program has been popular since its roll out in the fall of 2023, with over 1,000 students initially signing up for the opt-in text alerts.

She hopes this program puts a dent in food waste on campus and reiterates the magnitude of this issue in our community and around the globe.

“Some estimate that if food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest producer of carbon emissions (behind the U.S. and China),” Little says. “It’s not just food that goes bad that gets thrown out either, a lot of waste happens because we don’t understand expiration dates or we just over produce. I hope MarqEats raises awareness around food waste and our own responsibility to care for our environment by being more mindful of how much waste we generate.”

MarqEats works adjacent to the Backpack Program, a free and confidential service that provides groceries and necessary toiletries to any Marquette student who is having difficulty accessing affordable, nutritious food and other essential household items. More information on the Backpack Program is available online.