It’s a late Sunday night in the U-District and sophomore Cassie Halls and a group of cyclist friends are biking home. Their feet strain against the bike pedals, fighting the weight of panniers over-flowing with food from the night’s haul.
This is a typical weekend grocery trip for Halls; she’s part of a subculture of “dumpster divers” or “dumpsterers” — students who make a habit of eating what the rest of the United States has discarded.
“People who are aware of food problems and are into food politics are often dumpster divers because they realize the incredible amount of waste,” said Halls, who became involved with the subculture this year. “It’s good to take advantage of something that isn’t going to use, so it’s not stealing. It’s an important statement to make as well, that so much of this food can be used, but instead it’s going to be just thrown away.”
The “incredible amount of waste” Halls refers to is the 40 percent of food in the United States that goes uneaten every year. This amounts to more than 20 pounds of food per person every month, according to a 2012 report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).