Knox Students FRN raises awareness on campus

This feature, "Food Recovery Network raises waste awareness," was written by Elizabeth Clay. The post originally appeared on The Knox Student.

The best way to get students to stop wasting food is to show them exactly how much they are wasting. For the second year in a row, Food Recovery Network, a student organization whose goal is to rescue food waste, held the Weigh the Waste Campaign. This year, there have been several changes and improvements, including taking better stats and having more volunteers participating, to the Weigh the Waste campaign.

“It’s about raising awareness of food waste on campus, specifically post-consumer. So all of the food that we take onto our plates and don’t eat,” said Vice-President sophomore Meryl Davis. “It’s also supposed to show that we can do something about one of the issues on campus. I feel like there are a lot of problems that we feel like we can’t do much about, but this is something that’s in our hands.”

Though the organization is only in its third term at Knox, they have already done much to raise awareness about food waste, both on campus and in the community. Not only do they weigh the food thrown away in the caf during the campaign, they also donate food that would otherwise go to compost.

Though Knox has made strides in sustainability in the past few years, and has a composting machine, it is still best for that food to not be wasted in the first place. It is far more sustainable for those hundreds of pounds of food to help feed the community, rather than be turned into fertilizer.

“Monday through Friday, we rescue food from the CafŽ that hasn’t gone onto the line yet, so food that we haven’t seen, and that’s anywhere between 100-250 pounds of food daily. We pack it up and take it to our partners, which are the Galesburg Rescue Mission, Safe Harbor domestic violence shelter and Moon Tower subsidized housing apartments,” Davis said. The club has been doing this five days a week for three terms now, and has saved over 11,000 pounds of food in the last two terms.

In this year’s on-campus waste campaign, Executive Chef Jason Crouch asked them to record menus and see what is thrown away more often. This may or may not affect what kind of food Bon AppŽtit serves, but it will definitely help them gauge how much they should cook, so less food goes to waste.

This year, they collected over 300 pounds of food waste from students scraping their plates in the CafŽ.

“I think it’s probably about the same as last year, maybe a bit more,” said Davis. “The goal is not to guilt people, but to make them think about the fact that we have this excess of food that can be controlled.”

Last year, four members went to Maryland to the National Food Recovery Dialogue, and came back inspired to implement what they learned. To implement their findings, they had a more detailed record sheet and counted how many pounds were thrown away every half hour. They also made a push to get volunteers from outside the club and asked faculty and staff to help as well.

The only problem with this year’s campaign was the comment board, which eventually had to be taken down. Initially, they had a tally for students to discuss why they threw away their food, with reasons such as “I didn’t like the food,” “I took too much of the food” and “The food was really dry.” Other comments included wanting more halal options, hair being found in the food and that flies were a problem. Along with these comments, there were many inappropriate ones that didn’t even pertain to the food, which caused the board to be taken down.

After only one active year, the news of the program had already spread to many incoming freshmen. There has been much more positivity surrounding the campaign this year, as well as more things than just the weight of the waste being measured. Through their efforts, these students have saved thousands of pounds of food, to be repurposed as compost, or to be distributed in the greater community, and they don’t plan to stop any time soon.

Follow Knox College FRN on facebook.

Mac n’ Cheese on Wheels

It all started when I was reading the DailySkimm email I get every weekday morning. It was my spring semester during my sophomore year of college, and I was cleaning out my inbox. The DailySkimm is a quick-read email that gives a breakdown of the global news. As I got to the bottom of the email, I saw a small blurb describing an organization called Food Recovery Network. Curious, I clicked on the link and it brought me to their national website. After navigating through the site’s different tabs and content, something sparked inside me.

This was a cause primarily focused on recovering perishable food and bringing it to those in need. I was already in the mindset that wasting perfectly edible food was a huge taboo, and here was a non-profit organization whose mission was to fight food waste. I wondered to myself, Why doesn’t Marist College have a system like this on campus? What happened to all of the leftovers Sodexo has at the end of the day? Does that get thrown away too? I thought about all of those dishes and plates full of food on the dining rack in our school’s main dining hall, all about to be dumped in the trash. I closed my browser, and over the next few days, Food Recovery Network and its’ mission lingered in the back of my mind, and eventually I decided to take action.

Cold-calling wasn’t exactly my strong suit. The first step in bringing a Food Recovery Network chapter to Marist was to contact Food Recovery Network’s national headquarters about inquiring to begin the process. I reread my email several times, making sure everything was formal and I had zero grammatical errors. “To whom it may concern, hello, my name is Nicole Souza, and I am currently a junior…”. Once I read all the way down to my signature at the bottom of the message, I clicked send. Click. No going back now. Even though it only took Sara Ribakove, one of the FRN National Fellows that helped me through the whole process, 48 hours to respond back to me, it felt like weeks passed because I was waiting in anticipation. Reading her email, I could practically hear her enthusiastic voice.

“I’m SO excited to hear you want to start a chapter at Marist College!...”. She outlined the steps of what I had to go through to start my chapter: recruit a leadership team, find a partner agency, and get dining approval. It didn’t seem like a hefty process looking at the roadmap PDF for starting a Food Recovery Network chapter. But little did I know what I was getting myself into.

Spring 2015 was where a majority of the prep work occurred for gathering my leadership team, contacting Sodexo dining services and partner agencies, and prepping for recovery runs. Hannah Gingerich was another FRN National Fellow who helped me bring FRN to Marist, and both she and Sara helped me every step of the way, which I am very appreciative of. After the spring semester had passed, we were able to complete our first official recovery run during the fall 2015 semester. When we were preparing for our very first recovery run the night before, there was a constant red notification sign on my Facebook home page from my Food Recovery Network leadership team’s Facebook group message. I was all set up to drive my car, Sodexo Dining was ready for us to come at 5:00 pm tomorrow. Our leadership team would meet in front of the door leading to the back kitchen, and we would record the type and amount of food we would recover. I went to bed, hoping that all would go as planned tomorrow.

The next day, 4:30 pm rolled around, and I decided to head over to the back of the kitchen early. The leadership team all met up, and we cautiously entered the kitchen. A Sodexo worker walked by us, but then did a double take and paused. “Can I help you?” he asked. “Hi-ii,” I stuttered, stepping forward. “we’re the Food Recovery Network team, and we’re here to pick up the perishable food … the head chef told us you would have for us?” I tried not to show my nervousness, but it was palpable by my timid face expression and stuttering voice. The worker looked puzzled, and said he would be right back to check with someone. Suddenly, my heart started racing. Oh no, this can’t be happening. They didn’t know we were coming, I’ve made my team come here for nothing…

But then I was able to breathe once I saw the head chef, Anthony. “If you could just follow me to the back, please,” he amicably said. We headed to the back with him, and we saw that there was a cart loaded with wrapped food in aluminum plans. BBQ chicken, mac n’ cheese, and garlic bread; a hearty dinner. We weighed the food, then pushed the cart to the elevator to bring it out to my car. Outside, we loaded the food. I couldn’t stop from smiling. This is so cool! We’re actually doing this. I pulled out my phone. I looked towards a Sodexo worker that had come outside with us. “Uhh, would you mind taking a picture for us?” I asked. The worker smiled. “Sure!” Me, the Food Recovery Network team and the head chef all huddled together. “CHEESE!” We all had the biggest smiles on our faces.

It only took about ten minutes to drive to Dutchess Community Outreach. Once we arrived, we entered inside the building and found Margot. She was happily expecting us, and she grabbed a cart to help us bring in the food. I lifted the ten-pound aluminum tray of mac n’ cheese off the wheeling cart, catching a glimpse of the oozing, cheesy pasta as I placed the tray on the counter in the kitchen. I still remember that first tray I put on Dutchess’ kitchen counter because it was the first recovered food tray we officially delivered. After gathering the food onto the cart and unloading it, we were done.

That’s it. That’s it. As we walked back to my car, I exclaimed, “We did it guys … we … did it.”

“That was so quick!” the Vice President, piped in. “And it only took an hour!”

All of those hours, days, weeks, months, preparing for this one freakin’ hour! Bringing in 95 pounds of food that would otherwise gone to waste to people who were in need of a dinner took one hour. That’s when I felt it. That indescribable feeling that made you feel important, and that you were truly making a difference in someone’s life. And it only took one hour.

Although we continued completing recovery runs, we were not an official chartered club at Marist until early December. Hounding my Marist Foxmail account, I was sending multiple emails out each day trying to get Food Recovery Network a date to present to our Student Government so they could approve us as an official club. We were finally able to schedule a presentation date; my leadership team and I were excited to show our Student Government what Food Recovery Network stood for, and what our mission was.

On the day we presented, after all of the questions were asked, we had to step outside of the room so the board could have a final discussion. Standing next to the door, the team and I became restless and nervous. When the doors opened back up, we were ushered in and we were greeted with applause and a standing Student Government who were all smiling at us. On December 9, 2015, the Marist College Food Recovery Network became officially chartered. I cried when we took the group photo, all of us wearing our club’s T-shirts we ordered. From that moment on, I told myself that I would never give up on anything else in my life, but instead work harder to achieve my goals.

The next week, the leadership was able to recover another 70 pounds of pork, mashed potatoes, and green beans on their next recovery run to Dutchess Community Outreach in Poughkeepsie, NY. Again, it only took one hour. When I talked to Hannah, updating her on our club’s status at Marist as an official club, she told me just how proud she was of me for coming this far. It all didn’t really hit me until the day after. Food Recovery Network is now established on the Marist campus. We had officially joined the hunger and poverty fight, and our chapter has the capability of recovering over 100 pounds of food every week and bring it to those in need. We weren’t just making a difference; we were helping to change the world. Before, the Sodexo workers had no idea who I was. But now that our chapter carries out weekly recovery runs twice a week, the head chef Anthony and other main workers personally greet my leadership team and I every time we walk into the back kitchen to pick up the recovered food. Because of our Food Recovery Network’s work, now, the Sodexo workers hesitate when they are about to throw away perfectly good mac n’ cheese. That mac n’ cheese shouldn’t go in the garbage, it should go on wheels.

Follow Marist College FRN on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date with their chapter. 

Interested in blogging for Food Recovery Network? Send your submissions to for the opportunity to be featured. 

From Regina's Desk: FRN Turns Five!

Food Recovery Network has reached an important milestone. This September, our organization that sparked a food-waste-fighting movement at colleges across the country, is turning five on September 21!

FRN is celebrating its fifth year of reducing food waste at the source while at the same time, feeding those in need. For five years, our growing number of chapters ensures perfectly good food, which is currently the largest item in our landfills, is diverted and given to those who need it.

When FRN was first established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we chose the word network very carefully. We wanted to inspire the image of thousands and thousands of connections happening every day among people who care about the sheer amount of food we waste, the devastating number of people who don't know where their next meal is coming from, and the impact of growing, harvesting, cooking and then throwing away food has on our environment.

You might have a founding story of establishing a chapter five years ago. You could be a dining manager on campus, a university professor or an employee at a hunger-fighting partner agency, who has worked closely with a chapter and has seen the students involved flourish as emerging leaders. Perhaps you’re a donor who has supported any one of the impact areas we address.

Many more of you are just becoming familiar with us and our work: perhaps you’re a student connecting to an existing FRN chapter on your college campus or a student who is working to establish a new chapter. Perhaps you’re a concerned neighbor frustrated about wasting food and seeking a solution. You are all part of our community and the ever-connected network.

We’re taking the whole YEAR to celebrate FRN and to celebrate those who’ve worked to recover 1.4 million pounds of food and counting. Whether you were connected to FRN at the very beginning, or were introduced even last week, we’re celebrating YOU and the combined voices across the country who are changing the dialogue from food waste, to food recovery. 

This year, be on the lookout for ways to connect to the celebration. Make sure to save our anniversary page on our website. We’ll host events across the country including FRN’s Week of Action September 19-24. During this week, our Regional Outreach Coordinators will be coordinating an online campaign using #WhyFoodRecovery to promote our mission and hosting regional meet-ups in their respective regions, and of course there will be cupcakes on the 21st. Most importantly, we want YOU to help us kick off a year of celebration by sharing your experiences with #FRN5Years.

We’re also collecting stories from across the network to publish throughout the year. If you have an FRN story you would like to share, please email us at!

Happy birthday, FRN!

P.S., September 2011 was a powerful month. Here is a short list of other events that occurred around the same time FRN became an established nonprofit!

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report, "How to Feed the World in 2020" was released in 2011. The report noted that despite record cereal harvests conducted in 2008, more than 60 million new individuals reported having experienced malnourishment.
  • The National Resource Defense Council was one year away from publishing their landmark paper, Wasted, detailing how approximately 40% of all food produced in the US is wasted.
  • The EPA stated that 36 million tons of food was wasted throughout the entire year, with only 4% of that surplus being diverted from landfills.
  • In Sept 2011, the UN cited "the lack of income opportunities for the poor and absence of effective social safety nets" as one of the primary causes of food insecurity.

From Regina's Desk: FRN In Motion

Usually, summer at Food Recovery Network headquarters is a time to reflect on our efforts from the school year and develop innovations and improvements as to how we work with our chapters and other stakeholders across the country. Usually.

This year I’ve asked the team to do things a little differently. I’ve asked the team to consider what we have accomplished since our founding. We built a great organization, and now it is time to grow from start-up and incubation to a mature, sustainable organization. This is our opportunity to activate FRN in a way we never have before.

For us, this summer means to take a step back and see the bigger picture. To consider the moment we are in, the movement we are building, and to reflect on what has happened in our past. This is how we will springboard FRN into the future. A movement sustains itself with dedicated people who are willing to hold tight to a vision. For us, this is a coveted victory. For us, victory is higher education becoming the first sector where food waste is the norm, not the exception. That is in the distance. With all of your help, we will cross that finish line full of sustained momentum.

At the heart of our work, we need to make sure each chapter feels connected to one another, that they have the necessary resources, and that they feel part of the Food Recovery Network movement as times change, as their chapters evolve and the movement grows. This is how we’ll spend our summer.

The big questions we’re asking translate into work we are embarking on this summer:

  • Our Regional Outreach Coordinators (ROCs) are joining FRN headquarters for a 3-day retreat to support them to be our first-ever ambassadors for FRN to deepen relationships with chapters in their regions and to outreach to new schools to join the movement.
  • We’re evaluating our processes and making improvements. We’ve already identified ways to save our chapters time, improve their knowledge base, and further connect to our communities by asking better questions and analyzing data in new ways. We’ve surveyed our chapters and our hunger fighting partner agencies and cannot wait to share the results with you.
  • FRN’s Board of Directors has expanded from six to ten people and is eager to jump into its work supporting the organization. Earlier this year, the board accepted six focus areas that will define the roadmap for FRN’s future. The Board of Directors will build on those to develop FRN’s 3-year strategic plan. I cannot wait to unveil that for everyone.
  • FRN turns five this fall! We are busy planning a yearlong schedule of programming to showcase our efforts and accomplishments. In only five short years, FRN has proven that college students can be a leading voice in changing behavior. Where once no one talked about wasting good food, fast forward to today and students across the country are saying that we do not need to waste our food — we can reduce food waste at the source and in the process feed those in need. Again, we need your ideas and support! Be on the lookout for ways to connect with us! In particular, be on the lookout for our 5th anniversary itinerary of events and programming.

I look forward to working with all of you this summer and beyond as FRN takes a big leap forward to accelerate our impact across the country. A movement sustains itself with dedicated people who are willing to hold tight to a vision — a bright light — that is in the distance. With all of your help, we will get there that much faster where we can say definitively that higher education recovers its surplus food.

Thank you.

Epic Dorm Recovery at New Mexico State University

FRNds at New Mexico State at the end of their #DormRecovery2016 where they collected more than 700 pounds of dry goods and nonperishable items.

FRNds at New Mexico State at the end of their #DormRecovery2016 where they collected more than 700 pounds of dry goods and nonperishable items.

The Food Recovery Network at New Mexico State University has grown leaps and bounds during the Spring 2016 semester. As a team, we have recovered over 1,500 pounds of food on our college campus that would have otherwise gone to waste. We completed several recoveries from our campus dining hall, Taos (a Sodexo facility), but our biggest and most successful recovery was our First Annual Dorm Food Recovery. During an officer meeting, we brainstormed ways to recover more food on campus, and collectively we decided on the dorm recovery. We recruited 30 FRNds to volunteer Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. during finals week, May 9-12. Thanks to the generosity and participation of our Social Work Faculty, many of the volunteers received extra credit on their final exams. But this was not the only thing that motivated this amazing group of people: it was our desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and a chance to give back to the community. Our volunteers were so enthusiastic, many of them engaged the campus community in conversations on food waste and how we, as students, can get involved in fighting food waste and becoming a part of Food Recovery Network at NMSU. 

The response was amazing and we recovered more food than any of us expected. Over 700 pounds of dry goods and nonperishable items were recovered and donated to the local food bank, Casa de Perigrinos. During the time that we did not have active volunteers collecting food we had bright green boxes in each of the residence halls serving as a collection station until the volunteers showed up everyday at 5 p.m. When we first presented this idea to the head of the residence halls, we received some push back and doubt, but after we proved to have a system in place to keep the lobbies of the residence halls from becoming a food pile-up disaster, we were invited back to do this end-of-semester dorm recovery on a regular basis. 

It is a wonderful feeling to know that we may have sparked a new trend on college campuses, and to think of all the ramen noodles that get a second chance at life and all the bellies that won't have to go to bed hungry is simply amazing. Yes, part of food justice is encouraging healthy food choices, but if we can help feed one more person, and eliminate just a little bit more waste, then we’ve accomplished something. A majority of the volunteers and officers of FRN at NMSU are Social Work students, and this event provided real hands on experience for us to see that what we are preparing to do in our careers- helping people in the community. Food Recovery Network has made such a huge impact not only on our campus, but in the Las Cruces community as well. It has been a great honor to serve and work under the Food Recovery Network and we look forward to growing our local chapter in the semesters to come.

Reducing Food Waste Across the Nation, One Campus at a Time

FRNds at the 2016 National Food Recovery Dialogue in College Park, MD. (Photo credit: Elena Baurkot)

FRNds at the 2016 National Food Recovery Dialogue in College Park, MD. (Photo credit: Elena Baurkot)

This interview was written and conducted by Jonathan Squibb. The post originally appeared on Compass Group's Community section of their blog.

In the US, 40% of food goes uneaten and ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of municipal waste and accounts for 16% of methane gas emissions. In 2011, a group of University of Maryland students set out to change that.

One of those University of Maryland students and Food Recovery Network’s Co-Founder and Director of Development, Mia Zavalij, shares FRN’s story and their plans to make food recovery the norm, not the exception.

Jonathan Squibb: How did the Food Recovery Network get its start?

Mia Zavalij: In 2011, University of Maryland students noticed a paradox: dining halls were wasting nutritious food while community members were going hungry. The students formed Food Recovery Network (FRN) to address these problems through a student-driven mission: recovering surplus food from their campus and donating it to local nonprofits.

FRN’s replicable model caught on quickly as more students noticed the same issue in their respective communities and adopted FRN programs. Since its founding, FRN has scaled from one campus group to a network of 186 chapters in 42 states that have recovered more than 1.2 million pounds of food. By May 2017, FRN aims to reach 230 chapters and recover 1.6 million pounds.

FRN’s programs change not only the trajectory of would-be-wasted food but also the conversation about American food systems. FRN envisions a nation where food recovery is the norm, not the exception.

JS: When did you transition from needing to seek out chapters vs. potential chapters coming to you?

MZ: In the first year and a half, FRN’s student co-founders started 22 chapters through outreach to friends on other campuses. In the summer of 2013, FRN was featured on the VH1 Do Something Awards. We hired our first full time staff just in time to manage the tidal wave of new chapter applications; since then hundreds of students have expressed interest in bringing FRN to their campuses.

JS: How does a chapter get its start and how do you develop the partnerships with the community groups that receive the food?

MZ: Once a student expresses interest in starting an FRN chapter, they are paired up with a staff member at FRN national. FRN staff coach the students through an eight step process to start a chapter. Our steps include, recruiting a leadership team, talking with dining service managers, training in food safety, and finding an appropriate partner agency in the community to receive the food. FRN students have the autonomy to choose the partner agency that will work best for their chapter, and FRN national provides support in ensuring the partner meets necessary guidelines and has the capacity to properly store and reheat donated food.

JS: How did the relationship with Compass Group begin?

MZ: Early on, FRN formed a relation with Bon Appétit Management Company and Chartwells Higher Education. Claire Cummings, from Bon Appétit, helped develop the Food Safety Guidelines we use to train our students and a “Guide to Food Recovery for Kitchen Managers.” We have been very appreciative of the support that our partnerships with Bon Appétit and Chartwells have been able to provide. Through working together, FRN has rapidly spread to Compass accounts across the country, and we expect this growth to increase in the coming years.

On April 2-4 of this year, FRN hosted the inaugural National Food Recovery Dialogue, bringing together over 400 student leaders and professionals in the food recovery, food justice, policy and environmental spaces. Chartwells Higher Education was the Premier Sponsor for the National Food Recovery Dialogue and supported the travel of hundreds of students from all over the country, allowing FRN to bring together a record number of students for the weekend!

“We are so grateful for the travel stipend from Chartwells Higher Education which allowed us to send three members of our team to the Food Recovery Network dialogue. The conference helped us feel good about the work we’re doing while exciting and inspiring us to keep striving to accomplish more on our campus. We can’t wait to see where this national movement goes and are happy to be on board, we hope to attend the dialogue next year as well!” – Kirsty Hessing, student from FRN at Wagner College

JS: What’s next for FRN?

MZ: In less than five years, FRN has grown from a student group at the University of Maryland to the largest student movement against hunger and food waste with nearly 200 chapters in 42 states. As an expert in food recovery, FRN is currently exploring the impact it can have on accounts outside of college campuses while continuing to put higher education on track to be the first sector in the economy where food recovery is the norm.

From Regina's Desk: FRN at the 2016 Food Tank Summit

“Don’t let today’s solution be tomorrow’s problem.” That sentiment — spoken to me by Niaz Dorry, Coordinating Director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, when I first met her at the 2016 Food Tank Summit in Washington, D.C. — has barely left my mind since the event occurred in mid-April. Niaz happened to be talking to me about how all too often, when we try to divert attention away from fish that are being over-consumed, we place attention on other fish with bigger populations to give the over-consumed fish a break to repopulate. What happens, she said, is that eventually those fish become over-consumed, too. So while we’re still waiting for the first group of fish to repopulate, we now have a second group of fish facing the exact issue for which we were trying to solve. We essentially kick the can down the road; with this method, we cause more harm than good. 

I derive solace from the knowledge that groups like Niaz’s exists and they, like many of the organizations represented at this year’s 2016 Food Tank Summit, are there to think more intentionally about our practices around food so that our solutions today don’t cause further problems tomorrow.

I was able to tell people about Imperfect Produce, the business Ben Simon, co-founder and former executive director of FRN, started that ensures “ugly” produce that would have been left in the field is now purchased by consumers. At the same time, we heard from Jeremiah Lowery, Political Appointee to the D.C. Food Policy Council, and Lauren Shweder Biel, Executive Director of DC Greens, who demand that the voices of those living in poverty are heard – that they too need a place at the table to proffer solutions to feeding more people. There were additional panels dedicated to “Uncommon Collaborations,” facilitating finding solutions through a variety of partnerships. From “ugly” produce to partnerships, dialogue at the summit focused on intentional, viable solutions. 

Shira Kaufman from Carleton College's FRN chapter helped recover Chipotle burritos, sandwiches, salads, and jerky from the 2016 Food Tank Summit in Washington, D.C.

Shira Kaufman from Carleton College's FRN chapter helped recover Chipotle burritos, sandwiches, salads, and jerky from the 2016 Food Tank Summit in Washington, D.C.

And for me, the proudest moment came when I was able to tell the hundreds in the audience and the hundreds more watching the livestream across the country about Food Recovery Network. About the will of college students from coast to coast who year after year, despite busy schedules, finals, and social demands, are consistently on the front line to support their colleges and universities in reducing waste at the source. I was asked, “Well, when the dining halls make adjustments in ordering so there is less waste at the source, what do your students do then?” I said we are not here to generate surplus food in order to provide food to those in need — we want to see surpluses decreases. To advocate otherwise would be solving a problem for today that would not move the needle for tomorrow. Luckily for us, however, humans have a tendency of creating surplus despite best efforts. The beauty of FRN is that we are there to ensure that surplus goes to those in need. I was able to tell the audience of how we have sought new places to recover food, including additional dining halls on campus and restaurants and stores in campus communities. Events, too – the audience cheered and clapped when I informed them that the surplus food from the summit was being recovered by FRN staff and our Carleton College chapter.

Remember when I blogged back in November about FRN being the standard from which food recovery solutions are measured? It’s true. Our movement is about making food recovery as commonplace as recycling, and when our dining halls and our restaurants don’t recover their surplus food, it’s as cringe-worthy as seeing someone intentionally litter. Recycling and not littering are mores of our nation, and our movement is ensuring that we add throwing out food to that list. As I was happy to share at the summit, recovering our surplus food is the next frontier – and we’re already there.

FRN Supports the Ad Council's New 'Save the Food' Campaign


During April’s National Food Recovery Dialogue, students gathered in a classroom to hear how the Ad Council planned to make food waste palatable. What students didn’t know was that they were about to see a preview of the then-unreleased "Save the Food" campaign. 

As the first few seconds of the ad began to play, the hum of eager anticipation evaporated into excited silence as we were introduced to the story’s central figure: a single strawberry. Its journey, set to music from Pixar’s Up, started with its growth at the farm and ended, in the ad’s culminating moments, with the strawberry's plunge into the bottom of a trash can.

The Ad Council, in partnership with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), launched their Save the Food campaign last month. The national public service campaign is designed to combat food waste from the consumer level by drawing attention to the water, energy, and money attached to and lost with every wasted pound. 
The campaign arrives on the heels of the United States’ first-ever national food waste reduction goal, which calls for a 50 percent reduction by 2030. September's historic announcement brought food waste to the forefront of conversations worldwide, and days later, the U.N. set a similar international target. The message was clear: Food waste is both a domestic and a global priority. 

This is no surprise. In the United States alone, the No. 1 item in landfills is not paper, metal, or plastic – it’s food. And not just scraps of food, but edible food that should have never entered the landfill in the first place. The statistics are staggering: 40 percent of all food produced ends up in landfills despite the fact that about 25 percent of our nation’s fresh water is used to grow it. This carelessness with food amounts to about $162 billion lost annually, and is a problem that costs the average family of four about $1,500 per year. 

The environmental impacts of wasted food go even further. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after only the United States and China, making wasted food an environmental catastrophe. 

“We’re all culprits here, tossing out staggering amounts of food in kitchens nationwide,” said NRDC President Rhea Suh. “But with small steps, we can save large amounts of food – and along with it, money and precious natural resources. The more food we save, the more we can share with hungry Americans, the more we can reduce climate pollution, and the more water won’t go to waste.”

The Save the Food campaign’s role, and more generally the media’s role, in reducing food waste is to provide awareness for and normalize the idea of food waste reduction. Historically, we’ve seen popular media successfully fulfill these role as it relates to other public issues, including drunk driving and cigarette usage. 

In the late 1980s, the concept of a designated driver was introduced by public service announcements (PSAs) and popularized by its use on top television programs such as Cheers and L.A. Law. Similarly, the "truth" campaign, through its jarring PSAs, helped bring teen cigarette use down from 23 percent in 2000 to 7 percent today – a similar timeframe provided within the food waste reduction goal. 

“Altering consumer awareness and perception around the issue of food waste could have significant environmental, social and economic impact on our country,” said Lisa Sherman, Ad Council President & CEO. “By taking just a few simple steps around food storage, preservation, and use, the home cook has an incredible opportunity to reduce waste and minimize their environmental footprint.”

We all have a role to play when working towards less wasteful, more sustainable food practices. Join us in saving the food, because every pound counts. 

The 21 Best Moments of #NFRD2016

A month has passed since that epic weekend in April when more than 400 people traveled to College Park, Maryland, for the very first National Food Recovery Dialogue. It was a jam-packed weekend with so many wonderful moments. We asked the attendees about their favorite moments -- check out what they said below.  




































Didn't get enough NFRD nostalgia in this post? Check out our recent reflections on the conference and FRN's first-ever Lobby Day on our blog, and check out more photos from the weekend on our Facebook page.  

Meet Jamie from Elmhurst College!

Jamie Mahoney's food justice journey started when she took on a sustainability internship with Elmhurst College's dining services. As an intern, one of her very first projects was to start an FRN chapter for her campus. In the last year, they've recovered more than 600 pounds of food! Read below to find out more about this awesome FRNd. 



Name: Jamie Mahoney

School: Elmhurst College

Year of Graduation: 2016

Major/area of study: Urban Studies (with a Public Services focus); minors in Communication Studies, Intercultural Studies (with a International Studies focus), and Sociology

Position on leadership team: President



Where are you from? Schaumburg, IL native.

How did you get involved in FRN? I was the only student representative on my school’s Sustainability Committee last year. I asked if they had any internship opportunities available because I could get funding through a grant if I could find one (which did not happen in time). I came back this year and was offered a newly designed, paid Sustainability Internship funded through the Dining Services (Chartwells) on my campus. Here, the Director of Dining Services, my immediate supervisor, was told about FRN and wondered if I could start it. So, as one of my first tasks for this position, I established the chapter on my campus.

Can you share a favorite FRN memory? Out of all my FRN stories, I will never forget the experience of our biggest recovery yet: It was the Friday afternoon before winter break. Students, faculty, and staff were nearly all gone for the semester. The campus would be closed for two weeks, meaning there would be no cafeteria operations, meaning there was going to be food that was going to be thrown away. I had planned to make a recovery that day, but I would have never expected the amount of food that I was handed. One of the kitchen supervisors began handing me cart after cart of food. Nearly every refrigerator and freezer was emptied for me to take. I was left with three tall carts of food loaded with boxes and boxes of fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and condiments, and even bags of eggs and milk. Rows and rows of pastas, meats, sides, and breakfast items. I was overwhelmed, exhilarated, and joyful to see how much food I was about to donate. But, I was under-prepared and had to work under the biggest time crunch. The pantry I was donating to was about to close for the weekend, all student help had left me, and the kitchen was trying to close as well. But I knew I had to get this done. Thankfully, my friend came to the rescue to help me package and transport this food. About thirty minutes into packaging, we began to understand just how big of an undertaking this was going to be…but it had to get done. The supervisor that had given us the food also volunteered to stay to wash all of the dishes. With that help, we packed and packed and packed and packed. After two hours, we loaded those carts back up with “grab and go” bags for the families at the pantry we donate to and loaded up the SUV. With food reaching from front to back, floor to ceiling, we traveled to the pantry, just as they were closing. Their fridges had never been this fully stocked; their shelves were overflowing. And the best part about it all: It came right in time so the families could have a secure meal for the holidays. 

With our combined efforts, although we are just three people, we were able to donate almost 300 pounds of food to more than 100 families.

What's one thing you love about Elmhurst College? I always promote how much I love the RESOURCES and OPPORTUNITIES at Elmhurst College. As a transfer student, I wanted to make sure I made the best experience for myself, so I opened myself up to any and all opportunities that came my way. From scholarships, grants, stipend research projects, presenting my research at conferences, job offerings, becoming an elected official for the City of Elmhurst…Elmhurst College offers it all. It takes a little bit of digging to find all of these life-changing opportunities, but it is entirely worth it. These opportunities have been more impactful to my personal, professional, and academic growth than anything else in my entire life.

What are your ambitions post-graduation? I actually have a diabolical plan for after I graduate. Because of all of the opportunities I have taken at Elmhurst College, there are several different paths I can choose to follow. One of them, in particular, involves staying with the college. Right now, there is no Sustainability department/Office/Faculty/Staff on campus -- there is just a Sustainability Committee, comprised of key stakeholders on campus. Through my Sustainability Internship, I have witnessed first-hand the need for some sort of Sustainability Coordinator/Director at Elmhurst College. So, my very ambitious goal is truly leave the biggest sustainability-focused legacies on my campus, meet with the VP of Finance, present my findings and summaries of my current work as intern, and propose a new job title (complete with description) to the college and recommend they look into it. Then, during that consideration time, I will earn my Master’s degree in either Sustainability, Urban Planning and Policy, or Public Administration, just in time to apply to the job that will hopefully open at the college. And who better to apply than someone who suggested it? 

What other organizations are you a part of? I have always been involved in a variety of organizations, because involvement is my biggest passion in life. From being an active business member in two different Chamber of Commerces to being the chair of student committees, I get involved in a variety of organizations. No matter what I get involved in, I always make sure to utilize my leadership skills and encourage others to step up and take action. The titles and specifics are not as important to me as the overall message: I am an active participant in life and value making a positive difference through my work.


Interested in learning more about Elmhurst College's chapter? Check them out here.