They Don't Just Cook It, They Create It

The Lempert Report
March 26, 2015

The Drexel Food Lab – a student run group that aims to solve real-world food waste problems.

We’ve all heard the grim figures when it comes to food waste, like this one; according to the United Nations Environment Programme, in the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. Which is why we love to highlight groups that are coming up with innovative solutions to these problem. 

Take, for example, The Drexel Food Lab – a student run group that aims to solve real-world problems through developing recipes and food products.

Alexandra Zeitz, Student Manager, Drexel Food Lab The Drexel Food Lab is a research lab that focuses on working with clients and real world work opportunities for students – it’s a student run organization. So pretty much we work for different nonprofit organizations and we do our own products. Outr nonprofit clients are the EPA, Cook For Your Life – which is a website for people touched by cancer. We also work with corporations on product development and recipe development and we also make our own profits in the lab which is really fun.

The Drexel Food Lab’s about a year old, a little over a year. I guess it started by… I was working for a Professor that directs it, that’s also the Director for Hospitality and Sports Management,  and he wanted students to be able to work on new knowledge and real work working opportunities. Because we were the only research university to have a Culinary program so we should be working on new knowledge and creating our own research. 

Phil: Students get their ingredients from a number of sources, includingsalvaging bruised fruits and veggies and other food items headed for the landfill from Brown’s ShopRite grocery store in Philadelphia will the goal of creating tasty, simple recipes that everyone will enjoy – including the environment! 

Alexandra: For the project we’re doing for the EPA we go to the Shoprite that’s couple of blocks from our school…they give us lots of produce and baked goods that they can’t sell. We take them back to our lab and try to make recipes that are really simple.  

I made a smoothie which is something I make a lot with bananas. We try to make different bases for smoothies so different bases can be added to them… so I made a banana smoothie with just bananas water and milk and I added peanut butter just to make it interesting. 

And I made some baked apples, that we just had around school that were going bad, a little soft and a little bruised, so IO just cut the bruised part off and filled it with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Really simple.

I think the Food Lab is a great opportunity for students, I personally have learned so much and have gotten to work with a ton of different people. From the EPA to large corporations and I’ve gotten a lot of job offers through this and have really learned a lot through working with different students and learning how to be a professional business person as well.  At Drexel University, we’re not just cooking recipes we’re creating them.