Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Economics

Committee Chair

Bhagyashree Katare

Committee Member 1

Michael Wetzstein

Committee Member 2

Jiong Sun


This study investigates the effect of a fixed financial incentive on students’ food consumption and food wastage behavior. We hypothesize that students will change their behavior under financial incentive with respect to the (1) amount of food taken and (2) associated plate waste. To test our hypothesis, we conduct a randomized control trial experiment at an all-you-can-eat university dining hall, and employ digital photography method to collect daily consumption and waste data for each student. We estimate the amount of food taken on the plate and the amount of plate waste to the nearest 10%. The results indicate the financial incentive was instrumental in increasing the likelihood of students cleaning their plates (reduction in waste). However, we find no significant decrease of the amount of food taken on the plate by the students. These results are encouraging as they provide a foundation for policymakers implementing and evaluating policies to reduce food waste.