No Scrap Left Behind


The No Scrap Left Behind (NSLB) program raises awareness about wasted food on campus through interactive activities and outreach that provide practical solutions for the PSU community.


At PSU, we aim to create sustainable food systems that nourish people and the environment, build community, and foster collaboration among key partners on campus. Using the EPA’s food recovery hierarchy, we prioritize:

Food Recovery Hierarchy


  1. Reduction of food waste through food choices, portioning and awareness.

  2. Donating any uneaten food to those in need.

  3. Recycling any wasted oil for energy recovery.

  4. Composting any food that is unable to be utilized or donated.

  5. The NSLB program supports this vision by working at the highest points in the hierarchy--source reduction--and sparking dialogue and engagement around food waste issues.




Program Goals

  • To engage the campus in issues of wasted food and its impact on our environment, economy, and society.
  • To develop innovative food waste reduction solutions and build skills around food portioning, preparation, and storage.
  • To help inform food service providers on campus about opportunities to reduce food waste through portioning, menu options, food donation, and partnering with students and faculty groups.
  • To gather data on food waste and student engagement that can ultimately inform a broader, collaborative Sustainable Food Action Plan for the PSU campus.

Food waste buffet

No Scrap Left Behind began in Fall 2015 and was designed and piloted at Portland State University based on programs at numerous other universities including the UC Davis Love Food, Don’t Waste program. We’ve run food waste buffets quarterly to highlight uneaten food at our dining hall during the lunch hour, share resources with students, and capture survey data to inform perceptions about wasted food. At the end of each day, the amount of leftover student food scraps generated during the lunch period (11am-1pm) is weighed and composted to help us better understand the impacts of the buffet over the course of a week. 

In Spring of 2017, students participated in the food waste buffet as a part of the Waste Audit Living Lab Experience (WALL-E), a program designed to give students opportunities to engage in projects, gather data, and build partnerships across campus. Students helped at the buffet and captured survey data and recommendations in letters to our incoming food service provider, Chartwells. The program has helped inspire numerous other events and programs on campus to address wasted food, including:

  • A film screening of Wasted: The Story of Food Waste!, tabling event, and panel discussion during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in Fall 2017.
  • A food runners pilot program to help divert uneaten food to the PSU Food Pantry. Through this program, Ole Latte has donated over 300 lbs of bagels since April of 2017!
  • A film screening of Just Eat it: A Food Waste Story in Spring 2017.
The NSLB program will continue in Fall 2017 in partnership with Chartwells, with the continued goal to raise awareness around the importance of planning, portioning, and composting, and create innovative solutions to reduce wasted food on campus. We are always looking for volunteers to engage with us, so if you have questions or comments please email

Preventing Wasted Food

The following are some key strategies for reducing food waste at home. Through our NSLB program, we recommend a process of Plan, Portion, and then Compost. 

  • Make a meal plan before going shopping and include quantities of food items to purchase to avoid over purchasing.
  • Purchase loose produce at the store instead of pre-packaged to get the right quantities you need and maximize freshness on products. This will also reduce on your packaging waste!
  • Check your fridge before leaving for the store. Choose meals based around what you already have.
  • Learn proper storage techniques for fruits and vegetables. Did you know certain fruits give off gases that make nearby foods go bad? For more tips, visit
  • Freeze ingredients or prepared meals you think you might not get to in time.
  • Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping to save effort later in the week when you may have less time to cook.
  • Share your food! Donating food that you can’t use to your office, friends, family, or PSU’s food pantry is always a good way to make sure your food is not going to waste. Know that you are protected by the Good Samaritan Act.
  • Organize your fridge. Keep a container or section of fridge close to the front designated as the “eat me first” section. 
  • Learn food dates and what they mean. Sell-by, use-by, and best-buy labels are often meant for grocery stores and not customers, and foods past their dates are likely still perfectly safe to eat.
  • Choose ugly vegetables. Cosmetic food standards lead to large quantities of perfectly edible produce being thrown out.
  • If you do have food waste, find a compost location to recycle food nutrients back into our soil.

Additional Resources