Penn State Behrend helping to make Erie a sustainable community

Both on and off campus, Penn State Behrend students, faculty, and staff are working hard to make Erie a more sustainable place to live. Efforts ranging from students participating in the National Energy Challenge and the coordination of their second Trash to Treasure sale, groups and organizations are raising awareness and generating excitement about sustainability.

One program that has students working directly with the community is the Waste Not program, run through Behrend’s Newman Association. The Erie City Mission, in coordination with the campus, takes leftover food from the campus dining halls to use for the community. The program was started by students, one of whom, Stephen Galdo, worked in a dining hall. Noticing that perfectly edible food was being scraped in to compost bins, he decided to see if something could be done about it.

“I used to hate being in charge of throwing out the leftover food. I had always complained about it while working there, but now I felt like it was time to do something. It was time to give some of that food to someone who needed it,” Galdo said.

“I used to hate being in charge of throwing out the leftover food. I had always complained about it while working there, but now I felt like it was time to do something. It was time to give some of that food to someone who needed it,” Galdo said. He and a few friends met with Ann Quinn, faculty advisor for the Greener Behrend Task Force and Sustainability Leadership Minor advisor, to get the program started.

Quinn stated, “There are many sustainability related issues we cannot solve. Hunger is one that we can. I am so proud of our students for coordinating this program.”

Quinn stated, “There are many sustainability related issues we cannot solve. Hunger is one that we can. I am so proud of our students for coordinating this program.”

Volunteers from student organizations take on the task of picking up the packaged food and transporting it to the mission. Barely a weekday goes by that the students aren’t taking the food to those in need. One of the goals of Waste Not is to help other homeless shelters.

“It’s such a blessing to watch Penn State Behrend make a difference in the community. We are helping feed the homeless and at the same time reducing our waste expenses. It’s a win- win situation,” Galdo said.

Another big group effort at the campus is the Trash to Treasure sale. The United Way, Greener Behrend, the Athletics department and Housing and Food Services team up to organize a sale of gently used clothes, furniture, books, electronics and more. The sale items are collected during finals week from residence halls, faculty, staff and students who live off campus. The first event generated almost $1,00 that benefited the United Way. A moving van was filled with items that weren’t sold and were donated to the Salvation Army. And, over 200 pounds of food left behind by students was packed up and taken to the North East Food Bank.

The first event generated almost $1,000 that benefited the United Way.

“This was pretty good, for a pilot program,” said Ann Quinn. “We hope to do even better this year.”

Another effort at the campus focuses on energy usage. Along with over 200 universities and colleges, this year, four freshmen residence halls (Niagara, Lawrence, Senet, and Perry) participated in the Campus Conservation National Energy Challenge. The Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) is the largest nationwide electricity and water reduction competition on college and university campuses. During the challenge, students keep track of water and electricity for one month. The hall to use the least amount of water and energy will win an Energizing Food Feast at PSB. Other Penn State campuses have taken the challenge as well. To learn more about CCN, visit CompeteToReduce.org.

Penn State Behrend continues their tradition of working hard on sustainability related efforts at their campus and in the community. Whether they are planting trees, monitoring energy usage or donating what would otherwise end up in a landfill, the students, faculty, staff and community are more than ready to make a difference in Erie.

To learn more about Penn State Behrend's efforts, contact Ann Quinn.For more information about sustainability at Penn State, visit www.sustainability.psu.edu, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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Last Updated April 17, 2013