UCARE: Undergraduate Creative Activities & Research Experiences


Date of this Version

Spring 4-28-2023

Document Type



Our project proposes practical solutions for reducing food waste and improving student perceptions of food sustainability at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Our solutions are derived from undergraduate student survey responses and inspired by conversations with UNL Dining and Sustainable campus groups. We collected data from two hundred and six students and focused on students with meal plans who ate at Selleck Food Court. Within the qualitative response field, students could write suggestions for improvements to Selleck Food Court. These responses revealed common themes repeatedly raised by students who are passionate about and interested in dining sustainability, whether that is in recycling options, food waste consciousness, or education. Long-term culture building is valuable in dining to promote students’ sustainable behaviors. As our first main solution, we found that signage can act as a reminder, and influence students to be more conscious. In order for us to gain measurable progress, it takes diligent and routine programming to observe long-term cultural changes in the student population. Our second main solution is for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to implement composting, specifically at Selleck Food Court. We found that students are already knowledgeable and willing to participate in composting. We acknowledge a limitation of this study was the potential self-selecting bias among the respondents. Our undergraduate student survey was advertised on around 118 bulletin boards within residence halls, within Selleck Food Court, through faculty, some academic buildings from the College of Arts and Sciences and online departmental newsletters. Respondents who are more inclined to participate in sustainable behavior may be more willing to engage in the study than students who feel indifferent towards the topic. Nonetheless, our aim was to broadly collect data and formulate solutions to the food sustainability efforts at Selleck Food Court.