RUSSIA — A Russia college student is turning his summer vacation into the Great American Adventure.
Rudy Langenkamp, 20, son of Jim and Marci Langenkamp, will be hitchhiking from Ohio to Florida and then to California. His mission, to investigate how food is being wasted in the United States.
“I want to draw attention to the wasted food throughout my journey and encourage the businesses to donate the food to shelters in their towns,” said Langenkamp.
Langenkamp, a 2016 Russia High School graduate, is completing his sophomore year at Ohio State University, Columbus, where he is majoring in nursing/pre-med. He will be “hitchhiking” with a friend from Columbus to Cincinnati Sunday, May 6. After his friend drops him off, Langenkamp will begin his travels.
“I’ll be heading south on Interstate 75 to Florida,” said Langenkamp. “Once I get to Florida, I’ll be traveling the southern coast to California. I don’t know how long it will take me but I’m hoping by the beginning of June I’ll reach California. Then I’ll wander the coast for the remainder of my trip. I have a plane ticket for June 20 to come back to Ohio.”
Langenkamp said his trip has two purposes.
“My original idea was to get away from home for the summer,” said Langenkamp. “I want to promote the adventure of hitchhiking. I really wanted to travel, too. I had worked through high school and have saved my money so I can take this break.
“I also wanted to travel throughout the United States,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take a moment for yourself and that’s what I’m doing this summer.”
The second purpose of the trip — and really his main objective — is to discover how much food is wasted in the United States.
“I want to shed light on the food waste here,” said Langenkamp. “It is a problem in the United States. Bloggers talk about it all the time and say how the big chains (of stores) don’t recycle their foods. Sometimes the foods can still be edible and can be used.”
Since he’ll be traveling on interstate during his journey, he plans to visit grocery stores and super stores and see what their policies are for disposing of food. He plans on taking videos at the various locations and will edit it into one video and place it on YouTube.
“While this is a hitchhiking trip, I’m also open to other options,” said Langenkamp. “I might buy a train ticket or try to do a ride share with someone.
“You can hitchhike on I-75 and it’s relatively safe. It’s legal in Ohio but there three states where it’s illegal to hitchhike on the interstate,” he said.
“You can stand on the entrance ramp to the interstate,” he said. “The traffic there is slow moving and it gives them time to look at you, judge you and decide if they want to pick you up.”
Langenkamp said he has been following various bloggers who talk about the food waste in America.
“I follow people who see this as an issue,” he said. “The superstores are the ones they are most concerned about because of the waste and what they are doing with it.”
Langenkamp said he hopes to expose the waste on his Instagram page and on YouTube.
He said some of the stores have fences around the waste facility so you can’t see what is being thrown away.
“It makes a difference when people are proactive about what’s going on at the stores,” said Langenkamp.
Because he’s hitchhiking, Langenkamp is taking a limited amount of items with him when he begins his journey. He’s packing everything into a 70 liter backpack. He’ll be taking with him a hammock for the nights he camps out, his laptop computer, a solar charger for his phone and computer, clothes, sleeping bag, tarp, atlas and other basic essentials.
“I feel I’m in good shape for this journey,” said Langenkamp. “From the camping aspect, it’ll be a primitive lifestyle and I feel I’m very prepared for that. I’ve gone on trips with my siblings and friends and all I’ve taken is my hammock, food and blanket. You realize on those trips what you need and what you don’t need.
“I feel I’m pretty prepared,” he said.
He said his parents were tentative about his plans when he first told them what he wanted to do.
“I think they’re pretty cool about it,” said Langenkamp. “They’ve always supported me in whatever I’ve chosen to do.
“I’ve work hard and I play hard,” he said. “I’ve set a goal for myself and I’m taking the necessary steps to achieve it.”
Langenkamp’s Great American Adventure can be followed on Instagram, @thegreatamericanadventure, https://www.instagram.com/thegreatamericanadventure/, and on Facebook, The Great American Adventure, https://www.facebook.com/The-Great-American-Adventure-151667365472894/.
The Sidney Daily News will also be providing updates on Langenkamp’s journey.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.