Alternative Food Sources Prove Fruitful for Students

Senior Eric King balances precariously on the side of the dumpster while his companion, Senior Nate Bailey, continues to dig for loot.

Senior Eric King balances precariously on the side of the dumpster while his companion, Senior Nate Bailey, continues to dig for loot.

Various food and household items collected during dumpster diving trips.
Various food and household items collected during dumpster diving trips.

Senior Bude Bude prods at a sun- warmed steak. It comes wrapped in thin plastic, and a small amount of blood collects on the Styrofoam backing. Some of the blood escapes through a cut in the plastic and drips to the pavement. The steak, sailed airborne to Bude moments before, is flung back to his comrade, Senior David Yoder.

Bude calls out, “Nope. No good,” and Yoder’s head appears over the rim of the dumpster, then quickly ducks back down as the steak flies back from where it came. It lands softly among the other dumpster goods.

The two are behind a local super- market, dumpster diving. “Over the summer, Food Lion began slicing all of their meat. Now the only meat things to take are just hotdogs and sausages,” Bude explains.

Bude refers to a practice super- markets sometimes adopt to deter potential dumpster divers by slicing

through the plastic, thus breaking the seal and compromising the meat. The broken seal allows “dumpster germs” to set in, ruining any good tossed pork chop or t-bone.

No matter, several six packs of all-beef franks pass hands from Yoder to Bude. Seven greek yogurt containers, all flavored key lime pie, a block of cheddar cheese, and a bag of fajita mixings follow. One of the greek yogurt containers has something sour smelling all over it.

The two have been dumpster diving steadily this semester, continuing a trend established last year when the two shared a Parkwoods apartment. Now Bude lives off campus and dumpster dives for lunch. Yoder dumpster dives for all meals, including the dinner he will eat with his wife, Allison Yoder, tonight.

“So a real breaddiver then?” Yoder sort of laughed.

Both Bude and Yoder are devoted to paying as little as possible for food. Last year, the apartment they were a part of only had to pay for rice, sugar, syrup, peanut butter, jelly, hot sauce, and butter. Still, they admit, dumpster diving does not lend itself to a well-bal- anced diet.

Bude and Yoder are not the only ones looking to plunder local supermarket dumpsters. Yoder spoke of crossing paths with other EMU students. “Early on it was sort of like friendly competition.”

He remembers one particular night racing other EMU students to get to the next untouched dumpster. “But eventually it evened out. There were even designated nights. We knew not to dumpster dive on Thursday nights because that was when another group would go.”

It is unclear if the clothes Yoder and Bude are wearing to climb into dumpsters have been washed this semester, or if they will ever be. Even though Bude now lives off campus, he leaves clothing and shoes at Yoder’s apartment specifically to dumpster dive in.

They ride their bikes to every dumpster, each sporting a stained bag. Yoder has a spoiled backpack and Bude has a messenger bag. Both bags reek, but Bude’s smells particularly bad. “We never cleaned up the whipped cream can that blew up in there.”

Yoder climbs out of the dumpster. Bude has found room in the backpack and the messenger bag for all of their bounty.

“There will be bad runs, of course,” Yoder says, “Perhaps you won’t find anything, or an item that you really want, you find it’s slightly open and compromised and has dumpster slime all over it. But I end up going about every day. I make up for any bad runs by just going again in a few hours.”

Before biking back to campus, the two check a produce dumpster of Subway and Mr. J’s. Even though it is the middle of the day and the two are on an hour break from classes, neither show any anxiety about being found standing in a dumpster, sometimes mid- thigh in garbage bundled up in black trash bags.

Instead, they mourn the smashed condition of a grocery store cake, the fluorescent icing now on Yoder’s old Nikes.

-Konrad Swartz, Staff Writer; photo cred. Colt Duttweiler


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