I was watching the Big Ten Network with my dad a few months ago (presumably viewing a field hockey game or a wrestling tournament) when this PSA took to the airways. Sure, it’s the Big10 Network, it wants to make the schools within the conference look enticing to potential students and arguably most important, donors. However, University of Maryland’s brainchild, the Food Recovery Network, is something spectacular that deserves such attention and much more.
According to a 2013 study out of the World Resources Institute, about 1/3 of all food produced worldwide is wasted in food production and consumption systems. Essentially, about one in four calories intended for consumption is never actually eaten. WHAT?! In the US, up to 40 percent of food is wasted… that’s more than 20 pounds of food per person each month.
Luckily, The Food Recovery Network is tackling these these problems that have plagued American society for decades. Surprisingly, they seem to be making more of an impact than the US government. The work done by the NPO earned founder Ben Simon a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Social Entrepreneurs in 2015.
Food served at colleges is prepared daily. It has to be up to health and nutrition standards in order to be served to students. Doesn’t everyone ask about the food on campus tours? It’s fresh and most of the time still warm when it’s thrown out. So instead of throwing it out, it’s quickly packaged and driven by volunteers to local food banks, churches, and shelters.
The student-founded program has more than 125 chapters in colleges and universities throughout the country and have recovered and donated 671,978 pounds of food since its inception in late 2011. Each chapter is responsible for working with on and off-campus dining halls and eateries to gather unsold and unused food for donation (both keeping it from landfills and putting it on dinner tables that are typically barren) and also educate the student body and surrounding community of the issues of food waste and hunger. Sounds a bit like Exploring Nutrition, no?
The most difficult aspect of the program is changing opinions. The word “leftovers” sometimes bears a negative connotation, a sort of “no one else wanted it, so I got it instead” type of mentality. However, because of the quality of the food and the strong need for it, things are beginning to change.
Currently in the Philadelphia area, Drexel, Villanova, Saint Joe’s and University of the Sciences have active chapters. La Salle does not take part in the Food Recovery Network- a statement that will hopefully change in the near future.
Barrfare got a shout out from the NPO’s Twitter!