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Sustainability students partner with student organization to help feed the hungry

Lipscomb is leading the way in preparing students to be good stewards of the world around them

Kells Johnson  | 

Student working with pumpkin puree

Students in the environmental sustainability science course team up with Share Our Supper to help others.

With Thanksgiving approaching, many of us are anxious to taste all of the great recipes that will be brought to the table. Most of us eat as much as we can, and even enjoy leftovers the next day. But eventually, those leftovers get thrown away or placed in the garbage disposal. Students at Lipscomb University’s Institute for Sustainable Practice are learning about ways we can use that excess food for a greater good. 

Share Our Supper, a student organization at Lipscomb that focuses on food waste and hunger awareness, recently teamed up with environmental sustainability science students to puree pumpkins that were leftover from Halloween. Share our Supper was founded in 2015 and is one of the local chapters for the Food Recovery Network, the largest student movement fighting food waste and hunger in America. 

Senior environmental science major Sierra Gonzalez is the current president for Share Our Supper, and oversees food recoveries from Lipscomb’s Bison Cafe every week. Once the leftovers are collected from the cafeteria, the organization then donates them to the Nashville Food Project

Share Our Supper has been making pumpkin puree for three years, but this year is the first time they have partnered with a class for the process. 

“This  is something that the club has done before, so I’m glad to be part of it,” says Gonzalez, “It’s a really cool concept because you reduce food waste and help others at the same time.” 

Students partaking in the puree process are not only learning the importance of reducing waste, but they are also gaining spiritual knowledge from the activity, says Emily Stutzman, undergraduate academic director for the Institute for Sustainable Practice, housed in the College of Leadership & Public Service.

Student pureeing a pumpkin.

Students learn how to to puree pumpkins that were leftover from Halloween.

“The Bible references a practice called gleaning, which is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested,” she said. “This act became a legally enforced entitlement of the poor in a number of Christian kingdoms. What we are doing is following the Biblical practice of caring for those in need.”

She referenced Leviticus 19:9-10 — “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 'Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.”

The pumpkins used for the process were harvested at Gentry’s Farm in Franklin, Tennessee, a family-owned farm that has been around since 1849. Ed Eubanks, a freshman enrolled in  environmental sustainability sciences, actually helped plant the very pumpkins students are pureeing this year. Eubanks says he and other workers planted the pumpkins during the early summer months and began picking them near the end of the season. 

“It’s cool to see the entire process come to life,” says Eubanks, “I’m used to pumpkins being purchased for decoration, so the fact that they’re going to an even greater cause makes me happy.”

A collection of small pumpkins

Share Our Supper is a student organization that focuses on food waste and hunger awareness.

Pumpkin is also a great source of nutrition. Cooked pumpkin is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. It is also great for your immune system and eyesight. 

“If we’re going to try to help hungry people, we should do it in the healthiest way possible,” says Stutzman.
Students will bake the pumpkin puree into bread and afterwards, donate the bread to people in need at Room In the Inn.

For instructions on how to make pumpkin puree, see below: 
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. Wash pumpkins
3. Place whole pumpkins into oven on a baking sheet
4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until they are soft enough to pierce with a knife
5. Once done, remove pumpkins from oven and cool until you can handle them
6. Cut the top of the pumpkin off with a knife, and then cut the pumpkin down the middle.
8. Scoop out pulp from both halves
***save the seeds if you want to roast them later
9. Chop pumpkin halves into wedges (around 6-8 pieces total)
10. Place wedges back in oven and cook for 15 minutes (400 degrees) or until they are easy to mash with a fork
11. Remove wedges from the oven, peel them and discard the peel
12. Pour pumpkin meat into a mixer or a blender, and mix/blend until the meat is liquid
13. Freeze pumpkin puree 
***Puree can be frozen for up to a month and refrigerated up to a week.

To learn more about Lipscomb’s Institute for Sustainable Practices, visit