This year marks the 20th anniversary of the When You Move Out, Don’t Throw It Out program. The program encourages students to donate their leftover food, clothing and household items to help reduce waste on campus.
BGSU Sustainability Manager Nick Hennessy, who was working in residence life at the time, started the program as an outlet to donate items to people in need.
“We just noticed that so many things were being thrown away at the end of the year, just thrown into the dumpster or abandoned, and there were many people expressing the need,” Hennessy said.
Students will see donation boxes in residence hall lobbies, Greek townhouses, dining convenience stores and the Bowen-Thompson Student Union lobby.
The boxes will remain in place until residence halls close on May 1.
The items will be sorted the following week and then distributed to local non-profit organizations.
Jenny Swope, who coordinates the St. Aloysius Food Pantry, said the program makes a huge difference for the food pantry.
“They always provide a safety net and supplement to the food we get from the food banks, and it’s very important,” Swope said. “The need doesn’t seem to end.”
Students donated 8,485 pounds of nonperishable food to the program in 2019. That is enough to serve five food pantries.
Top 10 Food Categories by Weight (WYMO 2019)
1. Ramen (2,025 lbs)
2. Oatmeal (562.5 lbs)
3. Chips (500 lbs)
4. Crackers (450 lbs)
4. Cereal (450 lbs)
6. Bottled water (394.9 lbs)
7. Mac n cheese (350 lbs)
8. Granola bars (300 lbs)
9. Small soup (282.9 lbs)
10. Pop tarts (250 lbs)
Source: Nick Hennessy, BGSU Sustainability Manager
A student’s three leftover granola bars, two rice cups and unopened jar of peanut butter are all items that could end up in the hands of a person in need rather than in the garbage.
St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, located at St. Thomas More University Parish, also receives donations from the program. Food Pantry Co-Chair Jo Graber said she appreciates the contributions college students make toward the food pantry at the end of each year.
“The more we get in donations, the less we have to spend buying items that we need to stock the food pantry,” Graber said.
The program not only provides for individuals in need, but also reduces waste by keeping perfectly good items out of the trash.
“I think it’s a great way for students to visually see that generosity, that win-win possibility that can exist through donation and through the reduction of waste,” Hennessy said.
Hennessy said students living off campus should donate their items as well.
“We always invite off-campus students that want to donate something to bring it to the boxes on campus,” Hennessy said. “The ones in the union, in particular, will be available for those donations.”
Soup, canned vegetables, cereal, noodles and crackers are just a few of the items that local food pantries serve to their clients through the program.
“When people give, it makes a difference in these people’s lives,” Swope said. “Pandemic or no pandemic, it doesn’t matter. People are still hurting and they’re in need.”
Hennessy said students have multiple options to get involved with the program.
Students can donate by using their expiring Falcon Dollars to purchase nonperishable items. These items can be dropped in the donation boxes around campus. Students can also volunteer to empty boxes and sort donated items.
“If you choose to donate, it’s going to go to a good cause,” Hennessy said.