Vanderbilt Campus Dining Launches New Food Waste Initiative: Joey Chestnut at the End of the Rand Conveyer Belt


By Megan McGrath

After a string of failed initiatives to reduce food waste in dining halls on campus, Vanderbilt has devised an innovative solution: hiring celebrity competitive eater Joey Chestnut to perpetually reside at the end of the Rand conveyor belt and consume any and all leftovers. 

Vanderbilt is currently working to address issues pertaining to climate change in an effort to modernize the university and prioritize sustainability. Vanderbilt Dining supervisor Soop Ershef remarked that the university has become particularly concerned with food waste since learning it contributes approximately 8% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

However, previous initiatives have failed to substantially reduce food waste in campus dining locations. For instance, students were recently subjected to ads projected on Rand monitors intended to instill guilt to discourage food waste. One notable ad read, “The 14 pounds of food you wasted this week could have fed three malnourished children in Siberia for an entire month, but no, go ahead and throw away that quinoa you wasteful scumbag.”

When interviewed about said ads, one student stated anonymously, “They’re nothing I haven’t heard before. My mom said virtually the same thing to me last week. My girlfriend, my therapist, and I already know I’m worthless and if Vanderbilt Dining knows it too, so what?…”

“…Humiliation kink? Who said anything about a humiliation kink? Not me. Wrong, bitch.” 

Ershef also acknowledged Vanderbilt’s recent partnership with The Compost Company – a closed-loop compost system that collects post-consumer food waste at all campus dining locations – but felt there was more to be done. 

“The Compost Company is a great partnership, truly. But after some reflection, we said to ourselves, ‘Wouldn’t it be better to reduce waste before it even reaches the discard pile? That’s why we’re bringing in Joey Chestnut.”

Indeed, Vanderbilt Dining is in talks with competitive eater Joey Chestnut for their newest sustainability initiative. Chestnut rose to fame after winning the Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2007 and is currently ranked first in the world by Major League Eating. 

This proposition was initially met with some resistance. A recent campus-wide survey found that 87% of students believe the issue could be addressed by implementing more self-serve stations. 

Sal Monella, a junior majoring in sociology, recalled, “I advocated for a logical approach to the issue: letting students choose their own portion sizes and relying on self-accountability. Everytime I presented a new angle, Ershef would say, ‘No yeah, I see where you’re going with that, but hear me out… Joey Chestnut.’ 

Chestnut will lie in a supine position on Rand Dining Hall’s dish conveyor belt from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Friday, to allow all leftovers to travel directly into his mouth.

“We’re excited to have him on board. This could be a defining moment in Vanderbilt’s pursuit of sustainable development, and I look forward to implementing this revolutionary idea,” said Chancellor Daniel Diermeier in between investment meetings with ExxonMobil. 

  • October 23, 2023