Bruin Dine, a program that offers free food at De Neve Residential Restaurant on Thursday nights, launched last week for winter quarter.
The student-run program, which aims to reduce food waste and address food insecurity on campus, serves unconsumed food from dining halls to students for free on Thursdays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. or until food runs out. Students can also bring their own reusable containers and utensils to the private dining room in De Neve, and are served on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Thursday event, which received food from De Neve dining hall and Bruin Plate, opened at 9 p.m., but ran out of food just around nine minutes after opening. The event saw 77 attendees and cut untouched food from De Neve dining hall and B Plate by 98%.
Nafi Choudhury, a fourth-year economics student, attended the event but was unable to get food. Nevertheless, Choudhury said Bruin Dine is a good use for uneaten food on the Hill. In addition to reducing food waste, Choudhury added that Bruin Dine helps mitigate food insecurity.
“It’s definitely good for the lower-income students to have this opportunity to eat dining hall food,” Choudhury said. Despite its running out of food, he said he had a positive experience at Bruin Dine.
“Obviously the food supply is going to be limited, so it’s totally understandable,” Choudhury said. “But it’s definitely better than nothing, and for the few students who were able to get it, I’m sure it’s a big help for them.”
The availability of food can differ greatly from week to week because of a number of factors. These factors include the number of students attending and the amount of food provided by the dining halls, said Bruin Dine co-director and fourth-year geography and environmental studies student Rosemary Wallace.
“We rarely run out of food, I would say,” Wallace said. “This is, I think, the second time it’s happened that we’ve had to turn people away.”
When Bruin Dine does not run out of food, Wallace said about 5 to 15 pounds of food are typically discarded.
The program was first conceived in fall 2017 when its three sister organizations, Students for Students, Swipe Out Hunger and Hunger Project, formed a plan to address food waste and insecurity at UCLA. Student representatives from each organization worked together to host Bruin Dine’s first event in February 2018.
However, Bruin Dine was shut down after its first event by the UCLA Office of Environment, Health & Safety, over food safety concerns. The health codes of the California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act stipulates that only unserved food can be donated, which includes food from salad bars and buffet lines, where most of Bruin Dine’s food was sourced.
Katherine Alvarado, a UCLA spokesperson, said in an emailed statement that UCLA Dining Services and Bruin Dine work together to continue the initiative.
“UCLA Dining works with Bruin Dine, to collect unserved food that is still safe to eat but which would not be of acceptable quality the next day, and serves it for free that evening to those in need,” the statement read.
After its start in fall quarter 2018, Bruin Dine recovered about 1,000 pounds of food that year, said Bruin Dine co-director and fourth-year political science student Joshua DeAnda.
In fall quarter, about 200 people attended Bruin Dine’s events, Wallace said. In addition to its Thursday events, Wallace said she is hoping to expand Bruin Dine.
“We are looking to expand to hopefully a couple more days a week at least,” Wallace said.
About 30 volunteers currently staff Bruin Dine’s events, Wallace said.
However, all three of the program’s co-directors are fourth years, DeAnda said.
In order to continue the program after its co-directors graduate, Bruin Dine has hired six new interns, DeAnda said.