Each week Bucknell Dining Services offers up fresh, nutritious meals to thousands of Bucknell students, faculty and staff — as well as a few dozen baboons, capuchins and macaques.
Beginning last fall, in an effort to bolster sustainability at Bucknell, the University’s dining vendor has donated excess food to Bucknell’s Animal Behavior Program, which uses it to supplement the diets of the roughly 50 primates housed on campus.
The donated items are not leftovers or spoiled food but rather fruit and vegetable cuttings that have never left the kitchen and would otherwise be thrown away — onion and carrot tops, celery hearts and broccoli stems, for instance.
“You can only make so much cream of broccoli soup from broccoli stems,” says Carlos Soza, resident district manager for Bucknell Dining, who explained that he got the idea for the program after hearing about another food service company using its scraps to feed turtles.
The fresh produce — about 20 pounds of it a week on average — supplements a diet of dry food that Professor Peter Judge ’77, psychology and animal behavior, dubs “monkey chow.”
“All of our monkeys are fed above and beyond what’s required by regulations, so they have a diverse diet,” says Judge, who directs the Animal Behavior Program. “It’s enriching for them to get a wide variety of foods.”
“Plus it’s boring to eat the same chow every day,” adds Amber Hackenberg, a caretaker at the Animal Behavior Laboratory.
While the caretakers still buy some produce at local grocers, the food provided by Bucknell Dining has slashed the department’s supplemental food budget in half, from nearly $200 to less than $100 a week on average. The animals are used in behavioral psychology studies by dozens of undergraduate students each semester.