Stuck with stocks
Study associations find ways to avoid food waste
FMF, the study association for physics and mathematics, usually has at least sixteen crates of beer stored in its room in Nijenborgh 4, plus soft drinks, granola bars, crisps and other snacks. When the lockdown started, the board realised their stocks would be past their expiration date in September. ‘We had to improvise’, says board member Floris Drent.
They weren’t the only ones. Other study associations were faced with the prospect of having to throw out food and drinks they had stored to sell to their members.
FMF and the other associations in the building were allowed back in their rooms only once, at the same time, to pick up their belongings. ‘We share a very narrow hallway with another study association, so it was difficult to keep the recommended safe distance with them’, says Floris.
They managed to get most of the food out, though, using shopping carts. ‘We only had one cart to bring all the food from Zernike to the city centre, where I live’, says Floris. ‘We were very motivated, but the cart was so full that it was impossible to get past the building’s front door.’
The crates of beer were hard to transport, so they were sold on the spot. ‘People weren’t allowed in the building, so we sold them through the window of our room.’
That still left them with three shopping carts full of food. Other associations had the same problem. Artificial intelligence’s Cover decided to donate to the food bank, and life sciences’ Idun is thinking of doing the same.
FMF went another way and is selling the goods to its members. So did Bernouilli, the chemical engineering association. They came up with a plan for an online auction, says Bernouilli’s vice-chairman Hans Veldkamp. He served as the auctioneer and people raised their hands on camera. ‘The starting price was extremely low and the final price ended up still being very low: about 10 percent of regular supermarket prices.’
But even though the association lost money on this, he says, letting the food go to waste would have been even worse.
Bernoulli used a car for the delivery. But Floris only has his bike for delivery, so he cycles everywhere with FMF’s food. ‘Well, as long as it’s in the city, of course’, he says. ‘It’s a way for me to keep in contact with people during these times.’
For now, his room is still packed with drinks, chocolate bars and stroopwafels. ‘There are still ten crates of beer left’, he says. ‘Plus over a hundred bottles of soft drinks and 73 packages of sweets.’