FRN Press Round Up

Food Recovery Network has had an incredible start in 2017. In about a month, our student leaders have recovered over 25,000 pounds, and we've surpassed 200 chapters in our network. This past week, FRN has been featured in some great publications:

  1. Food Recovery Network @ WVU (West Virginia University) was mentioned in the The Daily Athenaeum for rallying around scientific research.
  2. Washington Square News, NYU's independent student newspaper, highlighted the work that Two Birds One Stone has been doing to recover food and educate the campus.
  3. In a feature on Lovin' Spoonful's Plenty Program, which aims to teach people how to cook healthy foods on a budget, Civil Eats also mentioned FRN amongst organizations who are working to tackle food waste.
  4. The Jewish Journal published a great piece on Imperfect Produce, who works to deliver less attractive produce to homes in order to reduce waste. Ben Simon, our founder, co-founded Imperfect and serves as its CEO.
  5. The Kansas City Star highlighted Thomas Anjard, who founded the FRN chapter at Kansas State University.

We are so proud of the work that all of our students, staff and alumni have done over the years. If your chapter has made the news or a blog, let us know! Send an e-mail to media@foodrecoverynetwork.org.

Food Tank Summit 2017 Reflections and Inspirations

The Food Recovery Network team was excited to attend and volunteer at The 2017 Food Tank Summit! The summit was a time of reflection, learning and service. After the Summit, FRN staff shared their experiences and the moments that inspired them most!

"I had the opportunity to share about FRN with students from schools across the country who are currently studying at American University. The enthusiasm was uplifting to witness, and when their semester is over, they plan to take our mission back to their home communities to fight waste and feed people." - Hannah, Program Manager

 

“I was delighted with the level of collaboration and teamwork. After breakfast, food tank volunteers helped us package up the food and carry it down to the main lobby. At lunch the fellows from Elevation burger made sure to communicate with me about how long the burgers had been out of the oven. The enthusiasm and helpfulness of everyone at the Summit made the food recovery smooth and easy.” - Shira, Program & Outreach Fellow

“It was amazing utilizing my time to serve the community. The members at Central Union were so grateful and thankful that we were able to bring them nutritious food. Receiving a thank you and smile was a reminder that FRN is doing the right thing and our time is appreciated.” - Danielle, Office Coordinator

 

“I volunteered at the Food Tank registration desk, where I was fortunate to meet other industry professionals and students interested in improving food systems. I was also able to watch the first half of the summit live.

Something I loved about the summit was its calls to action. A resounding message I heard from the speakers overall was that our world rests on food systems, and therefore improving food systems should transcend politics. In addition to political decisions and technological innovation, building a better food system requires cultural shifts. As chef and activist Jose Andres shouted, we should all ask ourselves ‘where can I be an agent of change?’” - Gaby, Partner Liaison VISTA

I'm grateful I had the opportunity to volunteer at FoodTank's Policy conference. I enjoyed helping attendees properly dispose of their waste, and the opportunity to listen to an array of voices in the food justice movement. I was greatly encouraged by many of the speaker's emphasis on combating food waste and improving access to land for young farmers as bipartisan goals within agricultural policy. " - Emily, Data & Program Support VISTA

Q&A with the OCC Food Riders, Part 2

On Wednesday mornings and Friday afternoons, while many students at Orange Coast College are in class or planning for the weekend, a cohort of student leaders are preparing for their weekly food recovery rides. For seven years, the OCC Food Riders have become a fixture in Costa Mesa, California by delivering surplus food from the cafeteria on campus, to local nonprofit partners by bicycle. They load up trailers with food, both perishable and nonperishable, attach them to the back of their bicycles, and make the 3.5-mile trip to their nonprofit partners Share Our Selves and the Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene.

Orange Coast College is a two-year community college, and is where the Food Riders first started their journey, and still continues to be their homebase. Each semester, about a dozen Food Riders, who typically stick with the program for at least two semesters before they transfer out to university, embark on the route which they have made over 550 times.

Over e-mail, I spoke with Carl Morgan, founder and permanent faculty advisor of the Food Riders, as well as Roy Duvall, safety officer and treasurer. Carl and Roy discuss how the group came together, how they serve the Costa Mesa community and the keys to remaining a successful organization, which they hope to spread all over the country.

This is the second half of a two-part interview. Read part one here.

Are the Food Riders comprised of seasoned cyclists or are there many casual riders?

ROY: Few are seasoned street-riding cyclists, maybe 10%. Some are casual commuter cyclists that cycle to school, some have never ridden on a public street with vehicular traffic. About half do not own bicycles, and used one of the six folding bicycles available for Food Riders use. A few Food Riders assist with the food packaging only, and do not participate in the rides, usually due to heavy class loads.

A haul from one of the Food Riders' donation trips, with lots of peanut butter and canned proteins and vegetables.

A haul from one of the Food Riders' donation trips, with lots of peanut butter and canned proteins and vegetables.

In your handbook, you mention that you one of your goals is for potential Food Riders in other communities to adapt your framework. Has that happened yet? 

ROY: We run into other community volunteers donating perishable foods to the same food pantries that we serve. Some are not aware of ServSafe certification or good food handling practices, most do not know that they have protections under the Emerson Good Samaritan Act for Donated Foods. Before we knew of the existence of the FRN, we decided to publish a handbook intended for these community-based food recovery operations. With the assistance of a group of graduate students at University of Dallas, we published our Food Riders Handbook in 2015.

Have you connected with similar groups that have been inspired by your work?

ROY: We have presented by invitation at two academic conferences. The California Higher Education Food Summit (CHEFS) hosted at UC-Irvine in Jan. 2016, and the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, hosted at CSU-Fullerton, in June 2016. Our Food Riders Handbook was a factor in both invitations.

What have been some challenges of sustaining your organization.

CARL: We really haven't had many challenges sustaining our organization. We have needed to stay focused on our core mission of delivering food twice per week, but we have a simple operation that is easy to maintain with a few committed people.

What are some of the lessons learned?

ROY: NEVER let a reference to us as a bicycle club stand. We are a food recovery organization. No, we are not "the bicycle club over at the college." We have flat terrain and good trails, so we transport by bicycle and trailer.

Rider-safety is paramount. I became an accredited League Cycling Instructor to become better qualified to be our safety rider. All of our riders are video-recorded from my handlebars and/or helmet. These videos are used for incident review, and deleted. They are also used to critique my performance as the rear safety rider. With student permission, video clips are published for special occasions.

We are a "poster child" for food recovery. Seven years is not a trial run. We are as "grass-roots" as a group can get. It is about the partnership with the OCC cafeteria and the food pantries, not the bicycles. Our mission is also to inspire others to act - food recovery at the zip code level is a national solution to hunger.

And my often-repeated punch line: If the OCC Food Riders can do this for seven years, with bicycles and trailers, every college campus in America con do food recovery. Lead from the front.

Did you make any resolutions for 2017?

ROY: Since you asked, yes. And you are the first to hear it. I intend to carry a Food Riders / FRN flag across the US, from California to Florida, on a cross-country cycling trip in the summer of 2018. I am working on the route now.

CARL: We hope to make a connection with a course in our OCC culinary program that specializes in proteins. The students in this class work with a different protein every Tuesday. The course instructor said that he would consider working with the Food Riders this year to provide some food for us to deliver to SOS on Wednesday mornings. We are excited about this possibility.


Thank you Roy and Carl for the great interview! Follow the OCC Food Riders on their journey on Facebook and on Instagram.

Celebrating Parnerships with #FRN5Years Interviews

The relationship between student leaders, hunger-fighting nonprofit partners and dining providers is the foundation for the work that FRN chapters do. No matter the amount of food recovered or the size of the team, great relationships ensures that all FRN chapters are thoughtful members of the communities we serve. Over the course of this semester, we will be taking an in-depth look at how some of the relationships have evolved over time and remained so strong. 

The first three of the #FRN5Years interviews will profile chapters at Goucher College, Carleton College and The University of Denver. Follow along over at our #FRN5Years page!

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Q&A with the OCC Food Riders, Part 1

On Wednesday mornings and Friday afternoons, while many students at Orange Coast College are in class or planning for the weekend, a cohort of student leaders are preparing for their weekly food recovery rides. For seven years, the OCC Food Riders have become a fixture in Costa Mesa, California by delivering surplus food from the cafeteria on campus, to local nonprofit partners by bicycle. They load up trailers with food, both perishable and nonperishable, attach them to the back of their bicycles, and make the 3.5-mile trip to their nonprofit partners Share Our Selves and the Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene.

Orange Coast College is a two-year community college, and is where the Food Riders first started their journey, and still continues to be their homebase. Each semester, about a dozen Food Riders, who typically stick with the program for at least two semesters before they transfer out to university, embark on the route which they have made over 550 times.

Over e-mail, I spoke with Carl Morgan, founder and permanent faculty advisor of the Food Riders, as well as Roy Duvall, safety officer and treasurer. Carl and Roy discuss how the group came together, how they serve the Costa Mesa community and the keys to remaining a successful organization, which they hope to spread all over the country.

This is the first half of a two-part interview. 

Q: Describe OFFCR's (OCC Food Riders) overall mission and how it fulfills the needs of your community.

ROY: Our mission is to reduce food waste and community hunger by recovering and redirecting quality perishable foods from the OCC Cafeteria. This single-focus mission reduces local landfill volumes, reduces Orange Coast College's pollution footprint, gets local and international students exposed to sustainability at the zip code level. Bicycles are part of our operation, but not part of our mission.

For me, it is simple. Here is some good food. There are some hungry people. I have a bike and trailer.

Was it a challenge to get OCC and the nonprofit partners on board?

CARL: We became an official student club at OCC in January of 2010. However, we did a lot of the preliminary work during the fall of 2009. I approached an OCC student (Joseph Vu) about the idea of using bicycles to transport food donations to a local food pantry, but we did not have a source of food other than small amounts of non-perishable food that Joseph and I could donate ourselves. We spoke with the OCC Food Services Manager, Thomas Selzer, about delivering excess food from the cafeteria, and he was immediately enthusiastic about the idea.

After we established this food source, we approached Share Our Selves (SOS), a local food pantry, to ask if they could use the kinds of perishable foods that would likely come from the cafeteria. Although we were unsure about how much food we would receive from the cafeteria, SOS was very happy to receive the donations. Both OCC Food Services and SOS were on board immediately. We just needed to ask.

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How has the program changed since it was first started. How did it grow from a handful of volunteers into an organization that continues to donate hundreds of pounds each month?

CARL: When we first approached the cafeteria and SOS, our expectations were very minimal. In fact, we planned to deliver food from the cafeteria once per month using a small bike trailer with an ice chest that could accommodate up to 50 pounds of food. Our first delivery from the cafeteria was an eye opener: there was a lot more excess food than we realized. We knew immediately that we would need a bigger bike trailer and larger coolers. Also, we knew that our "once a month" plan would quickly become once a week, and within the first six months we started delivering food twice per week.

As more students found out about the Food Riders through word of mouth, the club grew gradually. We received more attention when our student newspaper published an article about us.

Our growth has been slow but steady over the past seven years. Roy's contributions to the club with the Food Riders Handbook, conference participation and FRN involvement has really taken us to a whole new level!

Tell me about your team. Are there Food Riders that had never heard of food recovery until they found you?

ROY: Yes, there are many first-time Food Riders that knew nothing about Food Recovery-- the majority, actually. Some international students have been stunned and pleased to join us. The stunned part is because a few of them have similar systems in their native countries, but are surprised to find it in a developed, modern country.

Some students participate in one-three recoveries, or one  full semester, as part of their college experience, and move on to something else that also benefits their scholarship and transfer applications. Many will participate once weekly for two-three semesters before transferring to a university.


Stay tuned for part two!