The following is a guest blog post from founder and president of FRN at UCLA, Layne Haber.
Food Recovery Network and the Student Food Collective at UCLA hosted a panel on the food waste on May 1, 2014. The event was hosted on the heels of both Earth Week and Homelessness Awareness Week on the UCLA campus, and this was done by no mere coincidence. This event was meant to intersect the issues of environmentalism with those of economic inequity in the Los Angeles community by focusing on the three pillars of sustainability revolving around the subject of food waste: environmental impact, economic cost, and ethical implications.
Food waste is directly related to all three pillars of sustainability. In the U.S. alone, 33.79 million tons of food is wasted, which could be salvaged by better economic planning, more shrewd food purchasing values, and smarter methods of selling and distributing food. Most of the wasted food is sent directly to landfill, where it anaerobically breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Meanwhile, restaurants, grocery stores, and households lose tons of money on food that is purchased but never utilized, a figure which often does not feed into budgets. Lastly, the issue of food waste is especially salient in an area as economically divergent and insecure as Los Angeles, the homeless capital of the world. While Trader Joe’s and Ralphs throw out literal tons of viable food, many low-income and homeless individuals live off of meager and unhealthy food.
There were three panelists present, each addressing food waste from one of the three pillars of sustainability.
- Maddy Routon presented her student research on the amount of food wasted at one of the buffet-style dining halls on campus to highlight the environmental impact of the food being wasted.
- Naomi Curland, founder of No Meal Left Behind and Westside Produce Exchange, addressed the economic impacts of food waste through highlighting the work No Meal Left Behind has been doing to reduce the food waste of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). She also addressed the economic impact of food waste in our own backyard gardens and farmers markets and encouraged guests to begin a produce exchange modeled after her own Westside Produce Exchange to redistribute otherwise wasted produce.
- Tina Russek, the Gifts in Kind manager at the Los Angeles Mission, addressed the ethical implications of food waste by highlighting the disparity in food availability for so many members of the Los Angeles Community.
All three panel members engaged the audience in an exciting discussion on food waste, and at the end several student groups encouraged the attendees to get active within their own community!
The following is a guest blog from University of Arkansas Razorback Food Recovery Summer Intern, Jill Neimeier.
Razorback Food Recovery, the University of Arkansas Chapter of the Food Recovery Network, recently took advantage of a unique recovery opportunity. The University is located in Northwest Arkansas, which is also home to both Walmart and Tyson Foods global headquarters. Every summer, Walmart brings thousands of associates and shareholders to the U of A campus for a week of meetings and events, culminating in an annual Shareholders Meeting. This year, about 14,000 shareholders from 27 countries visited the University of Arkansas campus for this event during the first week of June.
The members of RFR believed that the shareholders event would be an ideal opportunity to recover food. Luckily for us, Chartwells Campus Dining, who caters the shareholders events, shared our desire to recover the food; the only problem was freezer space for storage. This problem was quickly resolved when Tyson offered to donate a 48 foot freezer trailer to us for the entire week. Everything really just fell into place as RFR volunteers organized local agencies to receive and distribute the meals. Chartwells employees placed the completely unused pans of food on pallets and put them in the truck after every meal, and then RFR volunteers transferred the frozen food to local hunger relief agencies serving populations all over northwest Arkansas.
We scheduled recovery pick-ups on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we recovered about 2,000 pounds (a literal ton) of food each day and partnered with the local Salvation Army and LifeSource International, which both provide daily meals to vulnerable populations. On Saturday, we recovered about 6,000 pounds of food and worked with a few other non-profit agencies, homeless shelters, and churches in the community to get the food out. The amount of food was overwhelming, and the only problem we faced throughout the entire week was finding places for the food to go, but that’s a great problem to have and we were able to get it all donated.
A few local media stations gave us a visit on Thursday as we were recovering and caught footage and held interviews with volunteers. This was a great opportunity to bring awareness to food recovery! Even though the news media was great, the best part was really to see all of this food, which would have been thrown away, recovered and given to people who need it and appreciate it.
Altogether, we recovered and donated around 12,000 pounds of food! Even though this is a lot, it was a very easy process thanks to our friends at Chartwells, Walmart, and Tyson!
I know you’ve probably missed us a bit, but we’re back to wind down the year with a few fantastic FRN Chapters! This week we spoke with Lindy Nelson from Texas A&M University. TAMU is located in College Station, Texas, with a population of about 40,000 students. Here is what Lindy had to share with us about her FRN Chapter.
FRN: Hey Lindy! Thanks for joining me today! To get us rolling, what has been your chapter’s proudest moment so far?
LN: Our proudest moment is more of a grouping of small proud moments put together. We love it whenever we get to go on a recovery and see the faces of people that work in dining. They are super excited to see us come in and pick the food up from them, because they don’t like to waste food either. Whenever we get in there, they have bags of bread set up for us, and they do it with care because its going for a good cause. We are just happy to see the workers not grumbling over the fact of throwing it in the bag – they put it together nicely, and they are happy to do it.
A personally proud moment is that we doubled members in a week. This was after we spoke at meetings, emailed presidents of organizations and told them about what FRN was, and we were looking for more members from more places. We were at 21 members, now at 49, and we actually have a list of people that want to be a part of it.
We are going to recover from off-campus dining halls next, and they are definitely interested. We are going to add the waiting members so that they have something to do too! It is definitely great to have more membership, and people in the organization are also proud to be members. New members and old members partner up and go on recoveries together.
We are also proud of the fact that we have more recovered than University of Texas! I know the guy who does FRN there, because he is a friend of mine at UT Austin. There is the Texas A&M and UT rivalry, and we already passed them!
Our chapter got on the local news station, and they came and followed us on a recovery a couple weeks ago. We also got responses, like emails, from people in the community. I was at Shipley’s donuts the other day, and I got recommendations and tips from locals about things they’ve seen, and it made me realize that after watching (the news story) they are actually paying attention to when food is being thrown out. We got an email from a bible study teacher who told her group about it! One of them emailed and asked how to be involved because this was something in her heart to always do!
FRN: Wow! Yeah, definitely a solid collection of proud moments for you all. And a bit of Texan rivalry never hurt anyone! So it looks as though your chapter has been smooth sailing, but what was your biggest challenge so far, and how did you overcome it?
LN: In the beginning it was just a circle of friends, and I kind of forced them to do it by making them go do stuff. Our dining had stopped ordering bread because we recovered so much bread – I guess that’s one of our proudest moments too! We got to talk to other people, improved membership, and got people who wanted to get involved for reasons like food waste, local community, or our community mission. We found members that were passionate about the issues, and now have multiple people for every recovery to recover the food.
FRN: Turning challenges into strengths is always great to see. Plus, you’ve done some great outreach for your chapter! So with your group, do you have any funny stories you can recall from recovering?
LN: Whenever we first started doing recoveries, we recovered from Einstein’s bagels Monday through Friday to bring to Twin City Mission. We’d walk into the shelter and they’d say, “Oh here come the Bagel Fairies!” We’d tell each other, “I have to go be a Bagel Fairy today!” I should have made them wear tiaras and wings! The people at the mission said, “You better start bringing something else because I’m eating too many carbs!” Which was met with, “We’re trying!!”
FRN: Ha, that is great. Nothing the Bagel Fairies can’t fix! Could you talk a little bit about your partner agency?
LN: Our partner agency, Twin City Mission, serves 200 people every day, and they also have 40 people living there. They are a homeless shelter with a community café that is connected to it, with 200 clients that come everyday. Originally they had to make food orders to feed those clients, but we got an email saying that they haven’t ordered food since October because of the food recoveries. They said that we saved them $15,000 in grocery expenses to allocate elsewhere! We are making an impact and they are noticing. Not only have we saved them money, the quality and quantity has increased incredibly – the meals went from hot dogs mac and cheese to ribs and mashed potatoes and full chickens! Clients are able to eat a lot better because of what FRN has been bringing them. That has been the pinnacle of our proud moments.
FRN: It really is great to see what an impact your chapter is having on your local community! Do you have any pieces of advice that you could pass on to new chapters?
LN: For publicity, I had a friend who needed an article for our college newspaper, and we got a front-page article! Really reach out to newspaper teams, and their local school would love to write an article about it just to get the word out. Contact the news yourself if you want to! They need stories to fill 24 hours, and they would definitely want to be involved to just get the word out for a good cause. Don’t be hesitant to get the word out via news stations or a newspaper article, because it definitely helped us!
FRN: For sure. Getting the word out about all of the great work you put in can really help. So now you can add one more post from FRN to that list too! Thanks for your time and can’t wait to see what great things come out of Texas A&M in the future!
*Here is a link to recent press coverage about the Texas A&M Food Recovery Network*
*To date, FRN at Texas A&M University has recovered over 11,000 pounds of food*
If you’d like to contact Lindy about Texas A&M Food Recovery Network, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org!
The following is a guest post from Michelle Zheng, the Special Events Coordinator for FRN@Brown! Have a look below, as Michelle shares her own take on a different kind of food recovery: gleaning.
“I went on a gleaning trip this weekend!”
“What? What did you clean?”
“No, gleaning, with a G.”
Most haven’t gleaned more than information from a book, but gleaning has another definition that’s important to know about. It’s also the act of gathering surplus crops that would otherwise go to waste from fields when farms don’t have the resources or time to harvest everything they’ve grown. A practice with biblical origins, farmers would leave excess produce in their fields as a form of charity, so that strangers and the poor could gather the food. Nowadays, gleaning practiced by humanitarian groups, but the principle is still the same: redistribute excess food to those in need. And what FRN does on college campuses can be considered gleaning in a more modern context: the dining halls are now the fields, and leftover food the crops.
But this doesn’t mean that we can’t practice gleaning as it’s traditionally defined as well.
Here at Brown, we decided to try gleaning for ourselves. After contacting a few farms, we got a response from Pippin Orchard, a local farm located just half an hour away from campus that graciously welcomed us to come and pick as we liked at the end of their season.
So on a sunny Saturday in November, we drove over as a group of nine to see what we could recover. With us were both FRNds from campus and from the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project (RIHAP). After we were greeted by Farmer Joe, who came out to greet us with oven mitts still on both hands (the smell of Thanksgiving pie wafting from behind him hinted at why), we headed out to the orchard to pick apples – buckets, crates and bags in hand.
The trees were so laden with apples in the area we were picking from that dozens of apples would literally fall off a tree if you gave it a nice shake. It was clear that we could’ve recovered several times as many apples were it not for transportation difficulties – we ran out of containers, and only had a truck and a car to load our harvest on. After hardly more than an hour, we had already filled every single one of our containers to the brim with apples as fresh as they come. And if that wasn’t enough, the icing on our already robust gleaning cake, so to speak, was already-harvested pumpkin that Pippin had just sitting around, unused after Halloween. We then toasted our success with some apple cider and snacks, chatting about everything from how classes were going for us students to the experiences of our friends from RIHAP.
After weighing everything back on campus, we arrived at our grand total: 703 pounds of tasty, tasty produce. 703 pounds from just one morning of gleaning, and potentially so much more had we been more prepared with transportation. Definitely not the worst way to have spent a Saturday morning.
Gleaning has been on our minds since then. We’re hoping to organize even more gleaning trips next fall, and take advantage of the huge potential sitting out there in the farms around us. Not only is the potential for recovery huge, but the potential to make local connections as well: by gleaning, we can support local agriculture both by helping farmers reduce their waste and allowing them to make tax deductions for the gleaned produce. It’s a vote for sustainable local food systems.
And on top of that, it’s a great community-building activity – anyone can participate and share the thrill of handpicking fruits and vegetables right from the trees and vines they grow from. You’re not going to connect more with the source of your food than this.
Legality is an issue when it comes to organizing gleaning events, but our good old friend the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act takes care of liability associated with gleaned food, save instances of gross negligence or intentional misconduct. And volunteers can sign liability waivers that prevent growers from legal responsibility in the case that volunteers injure themselves while participating.
Now that I’ve had this experience, I’d love to see other chapters organize gleaning trips as well. It’s as easy as contacting farmers, figuring out a few logistics, and then going out to the fields. And if gleaning from farms isn’t geographically feasible, there’s also urban gleaning, where gleaners collect produce from backyards and public spaces. Both are great ways to translate a hunger for action into the freshest kind of food possible for those who need it. So onwards, my FRNds – get out there and get gleaning!
Michelle Zheng is the Special Events Coordinator at FRN @Brown. If you’d like to to reach Michelle to learn more about getting involved with gleaning in your community, you can email her at email@example.com. This post originally appeared on the FRN@Brown website.
Photos courtesy of Michelle Zheng, Special Events Coordinator, FRN@Brown.
To close out March, we spoke with Emily Vebrosky of Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Our 50th chapter, FRN at Lycoming has been recovering since January of 2014 – but in a short time, this urban school has been extremely successful! Here is what Emily had to say about her chapter at Lycoming College:
FRN: Hi Emily! Thanks for hopping on the call with us! So to start off, how did you decide to start an FRN Chapter at Lycoming College?
EV: We were at PERC (Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium) at Penn State in October, Eileen was there talking, and we just fell in love with it, and our advisers told us not to start right away, but we didn’t listen – we emailed Eileen the next day!
FRN: That is awesome! What was your chapter’s proudest moment so far?
EV: It would have to be our first recovery. Our cafeteria staff told us that they’ve tried to get a program going for years! They were told that recovering food wasn’t allowed, and that the school couldn’t do it. They were so excited and happy when we started, and that made our group more excited that they were on the same page. Some workers were saying that it took 5 years to get a program like this!
FRN: Wow! That is great stuff to have staff and your chapter be so committed to the same cause. What was your biggest challenge so far, and how did you overcome it?
EV: At first we couldn’t figure out containers, but we got a grant, which was great! Also, another hurdle we ran into was just people understanding food recoveries. It only took a week to figure out what was going on, though, and we had enough volunteers.
FRN: Cool – it is good to have everyone on the same page from the volunteer side of it. Any funny stories from your experience so far?
EV: We did have someone drop a tray! Originally, it was two of us that had done the recoveries for a week and a half, but we didn’t know how to get more people involved. One day we needed two people to help us recover. The two volunteers spilled some of the recovered food from the trays and then left! We had to deliver the food immediately, so we grabbed someone off the street to help deliver and other member to clean up – and this happened on the second day of recovery! Needless to say, those two people aren’t helping anymore.
FRN: Wow! That is definitely a twist on food recovering! Are there any foods that your chapter is excited to recover in particular?
EV: We are happy for anything, but definitely happy about vegetables! I help at a soup kitchen back home that never served them. The chicken pot pie is a solid meal to recover, and that is about once a week. We also have a vegan and vegetarian thing happening on our campus so a lot of vegetables are available.
FRN: Definitely agree with you on vegetables. The vegan and vegetarian options on campus is a great resource! Could you talk a little bit about your partner agency?
EV: Our partner agency is a community shelter and they feed people who go there. We have a recent graduate who works there, and the shelter is open 24 hours, which makes delivering food a lot easier. We are able to drop off whenever, and there is always someone waiting for the food. It is really quick and easy to drop off our recovered food, and we are looking to volunteer with them soon.
FRN: That sounds like a really convenient relationship you have! It is also really great to see that you are looking to work with the shelter beyond just bringing food to them. Being a relatively new chapter yourself, do you have any pieces of advice that you have for new chapters?
EV: Don’t stop if someone tells you that you can’t start a chapter, because there is always a way to figure it out. Also, don’t wait! Because if we would have waited, we don’t know when we would have eventually started!
FRN: Awesome advice! We are really happy that you acted on that excitement and became a chapter! Looking forward to seeing what comes out of Lycoming College in the future, and thanks again!
If you’d like to get in touch with Emily about her work at Lycoming College, her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello! We are serving up our Chapter of the Week segments, highlighting different FRN Chapters across the nation, and sharing their hard work, stories, and the impact that being made on their campus and community.
This week we spoke with Sara Ribakove from the University of Rochester! This FRN Chapter was founded in late 2013, and is located in Rochester, New York, and is home to approximately 6,000 students. Here is what Sara had to say about her chapter in Rochester:
FRN: Hi Sara! So first of all, how did you decide to start an FRN Chapter at Rochester?
SR: We found out about FRN from a TV segment, the Do Something Awards, where they presented an award to FRN. It seemed easy to start and a great thing to do! As a Public Health major, I find opportunities such as this to be both necessary for college students to engage in. The application was simple and everything fell into place from there. It is not the most epic story, but it seemed something the community could use and we went for it.
FRN: Very cool. It doesn’t need to be epic, it is the cause that counts! What was your chapter’s proudest moment so far?
SR: There are a lot of proud moments, but we recently got the stamp of approval from our school to be an official campus organization! We’ve had ”preliminary status” for a while and we spent a couple months showing that we are capable of following our mission statement. Receiving the stamp of approval allows us to function as a recognized club on the campus, and ensures longevity for the club’s. It’s been an interesting yet stressful process. Becoming an official organization within one school year is a big success for us.
FRN: Making a group on campus definitely helps with making the group sustainable. What was your biggest challenge so far, and how did you overcome it?
SR: We haven’t really had any major speed bumps. Thankfully we’ve had a receptive community, both administrative and student-wise. One small hurdle we’ve had to deal with is having more bagels to donate than our shelter can handle. We’ve been working with our dining services to reduce the number of bagels and have also looked into donating the excess bagels to other locations.
FRN: That actually has come up with other schools too!
SR: We’re still working on it with dining services and seeing if we can reduce the number of bagels that come to the university in the first place! And we’re also trying to reach more partner agencies to find a home for the overflow of bagels.
FRN: That is a great approach to finding more partner agencies that can take surplus foods! Are there any foods that your chapter is excited to recover in particular?
SR: We are always excited when we recover proteins, including various meats and chicken. It’s nice to know that when we retrieve food, it is enough to serve as main meal and not just supplement a dish. We recently received an email from our partner agency’s manager saying that they were making a bean soup entirely from donations – that’s rewarding!
FRN: Nice! You mentioned you donate to a soup kitchen. Could you tell us about your relationship with your partner agency?
SR: Our relationship with our partner agency, St. Peter’s Kitchen, is one of the highlights of our chapter. St. Peter’s Kitchen is a local lunch soup kitchen that serves upwards of 140 people every weekday. We have a dynamic relationship with them – we work with them if we can’t get food over to them for some reason, such as if the weather isn’t great, as it often is in Rochester, and they have been really accepting and understanding. Currently we are working on a video between dining services, chapter, and St. Peter’s Kitchen to highlight the process.
Additionally, our whole chapter will be going there in early April and having lunch with clientele, eating the same meals, and working to overcoming the stigmas and stereotypes that comes with community members that go to soup kitchen for lunch. This whole experience has taught us a lot, and we continue to learned even more from the director, Patty, because she is a wonderful, warm person. We do as much as we can for them, but realistically they have done more for us. They opened their doors to us, and we both benefit from it. It is great because they are a short drive too! We feel like its actually helping your neighbor.
FRN: That is fantastic to see such an awesome relationship with St. Peter’s Kitchen! Helping and learning from each other is really fulfilling. Do you have any pieces of advice that you have for new chapters?
SR: I would say two things: firstly, its important to realize that students on campus are usually on meal plans, so you don’t necessarily see food insecurity in campus, but its going on in general community of your school. Hunger isn’t always seen, but its present in the community. And secondly, sometimes there are those challenges, but its entirely worth it for the reward of giving back to your local community because they appreciate more than they tell you.
FRN: For sure. Hunger is something that isn’t so obvious for us to see. Thanks for an amazing interview and looking forward to hearing great things from the University of Rochester in the future!
If you’d like to contact Sara Ribakove about her chapter at University of Rochester, you can email her at email@example.com
“I’m always amazed at the amount of food I see at conferences,” one passerby said in the exhibit hall at the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference, “Can you imagine how much you could recover from here?”
Turns out, we didn’t have to guess! On March 3 and 4, 2014, Sara and Eileen from the FRN National team ventured to the Hyatt Regency hotel in Baltimore, MD for the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference. We hosted an exhibit booth about Food Recovery Network and coordinated two food recoveries from the conference itself!
Despite the snow on Monday, we were able to execute a recovery to Project Plase, Inc., where FRN at Goucher College brings the food they recover. At 2 pm we gathered our aluminum trays and met Katherine Gallagher, Convention Services Manager, and Ashley Uher, Meeting Concierge Supervisor in the lobby. They led us to a top-secret location in the depths of the hotel (just kidding, it was the kitchen complex on the second floor!) for a brief behind-the-scenes tour of ways the hotel already reduces food waste, including a staff dining room where many leftovers are served instead of trashed.
Back in the entry hall to the kitchen, there was a tall cart full of trays of leftover lunch food–green beans and tomatoes, roasted fingerling potatoes, mushroom tarts, vegan ravioli and gluten free meals that had been prepared but not requested or eaten by conference guests. We rolled up our sleeves, washed our hands and got scooping! The food fit neatly into six containers, and then it was into the car for the drive over to Project Plase, which addresses homelessness in Baltimore by providing housing and other services for adults in need, and conducts important advocacy work to change and improve current policies.
The first afternoon of the SSCC kept us busy as we chatted with students, sustainability officers, consultants and other sustainability professionals. It was exciting to hear about sustainable food-related initiatives from campuses across the country, and we even met a few students who have volunteered with an FRN chapter! We had the pleasure of talking to Scott Vadney, one of the general managers of dining at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where our chapter Recover Rochester has diverted nearly 6,000 pounds of food from the landfill this year alone. Scott opened his kitchen to the dining managers of neighboring University of Rochester to see the recovery process firsthand; U of R has been recovering food with FRN since the middle of last semester.
On Tuesday, two volunteers from FRN at Goucher joined us for the recovery, helping us pack up the leftovers, including pea soup. We always hear from our chapters that soup is a challenge to recover, so here’s a #ProTip: Make sure you don’t overfill the ziplock bag and be sure to seal it before transporting the soup. Whoops… With some quick thinking we narrowly avoided a major soup disaster.
In all, we recovered about 110 pounds of food–about 90 meals’ worth–from the conference and are looking forward to more conference recoveries in the future! The SSCC is a conference during which attendees not only “talk the talk” but also is a place where organizers and attendees “walk the walk,” as the conference read more is carbon-neutral, much of the food is locally sourced, and very little waste is created. It was exciting and rewarding to work with the SSCC to fight waste and feed people this year.
If you are interested in recovering food from your conference, contact your local FRN chapter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Sara Gassman is the Director of Member Support and Communications at Food Recovery Network. She suggests you follow @FoodRecovery on Twitter and like Food Recovery Network on Facebook for all the latest and greatest from across the movement. If you prefer more elaborate communications, sign up for our e-newsletter. We won’t bombard you. Promise.
Hello! We are serving up our Chapter of the Week segments, highlighting different FRN Chapters across the nation, and sharing their hard work, stories, and the impact that being made on their campus and community.
This week we spoke with Kristi Allen from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Food Rescue has been an official FRN chapter since the fall of 2013, and is on pace to crack their first 1,000 pounds of donations this semester! Here is what Kristi shared with us about her chapter at Allegheny College.
FRN: Hello Kristi! Thanks for taking some time to chat! What would be Food Rescue’s proudest moment so far?
KA: Our proudest moment as a chapter would probably be when we have gotten so many more volunteers this semester. It is great to see everyone excited to help out.
FRN: For sure. The more help the better. Have you had to overcome any obstacles? If so, how did you overcome them?
KA: Our biggest challenge was getting the word out on campus about our organization. We have had a lot more interest than the last semester and a lot of people want to get involved. Some of what we did included going to a forum on local food and hunger. Many of the people there were just learning about our program and had volunteers to send our way.
FRN: That is awesome! Really creative idea for attending a forum – that definitely helps get the word out. When you’re doing recoveries, is there any food that you are excited to recover? Or are there any unique foods to Allegheny that you recover?
KA: We are always excited to rescue meat because it is not something we can often get. We also love rescuing ‘kid friendly’ foods like mac and cheese or french toast because one of our partner agencies feeds women and their children. It’s great to know we have something the kids love. I think a unique food we recovered would be the tater tot casserole. I’ve never seen anything like it before coming to Allegheny, but it’s a great mixture of tater tots and meat (two great things to rescue!).
FRN: Definitely. It always helps when the food you recover happens to be a favorite with those who are eating it! You said that one of your partner agencies feeds women and their children, could you tell us a little about your partner agencies?
KA: Our partner agencies are CHAPS, St. James Haven, and Women’s Services. CHAPS supports people with mental health illnesses and helps to improve the mental health services available in the local area. They also help people in the area that are homeless or nearly homeless with housing advocacy. St. James Haven is a shelter for homeless men in the area. Women’s Services offers shelter for women in distress and their dependent children and counseling and advocacy for members of the community that have experienced violence or sexual assault. They are also a part of educating the community on violence and abuse. All three of our partner agencies do so much for the community – it is really great to be able to help them through our Food Rescue program.
FRN: It sounds like you’ve got a solid base of partner agencies to work with! So as we wrap this up, do you have any advice for chapters that are just starting?
KA: For new chapters I would say it’s important to find volunteers who are enthusiastic about what you are trying to do and to find partner agencies that you can really help out. It offers a lot of encouragement to keep doing what we do each day.
FRN: Of course. Being able to enjoy what your group is doing and knowing that it is for a good cause is really fulfilling. Well that’s about it, and thanks for taking the time to chat!
*To date, Allegheny College has recovered over 600 pounds of food*
If you’d like to contact Kristi about Food Rescue at Allegheny College, you can email the group at email@example.com!
Hello! We are serving up our Chapter of the Week segments, highlighting different FRN Chapters across the nation, and sharing get more info their hard work, stories, and the impact that being made on their campus and community.
This week we spoke with Dylan J. Bondy, who leads the FRN Chapter at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. The rural college is home to 1650 students, and the FRN Chapter began in May of 2013. Here is what Dylan had to say about his chapter at Grinnell.
FRN: Hey Dylan! Thanks for chatting with us about your FRN Chapter at Grinnell College. Could you tell everyone about your proudest moment so far as a Chapter?
DB: My proudest moment was actually a delivery just two weeks ago, where we were able to give 95 lbs of food to 8 different families with nothing leftover. This moment was 1 year in the making, so to finally see the program working for the first time was really incredible. Getting to interact with the people that are receiving it (the food), and the thanks we receive from these families, is really sweet. I’m really happy to have a model like this, as sometimes donating food ends up being a number (weight), and not a name, or a family, or a person. Dealing directly with these people, and the town of Grinnell, makes us feel more connected to the community.
FRN: That’s awesome! Making those connections with the community is definitely important. Have you had an obstacles that you’ve had to overcome? And how did you overcome them?
DB: Initially there were no partner agencies with the infrastructure to serve hot meals in our community, so we created it, and actually recover and distribute the meals ourselves. We are very fortunate to have Deanna Shorb, our Chaplain at Grinnell, who has helped to secure funding for a fridge to store our recovered food, and find a space for it in our student union. Deanna Shorb also connected us with the First Presbyterian Church’s pastor Kirsten Klepfer, and with David and Linda Cranston, who helped create our distribution program, as well as organize church volunteers, and a voucher system for families to receive meals.
FRN: Great job finding campus and community partners to find solutions! When your chapter recovers food, is there any food you are excited to recover in particular?
DB: All of it is exciting! Because of the long-winded nature of trying (to recover) for 10 months from Last April to this beginning of February, we are excited to recover anything and everything! One food group in particular that stands out to me though is veggies. Families in our area have limited access to vegetables, so the ability to give greens to local families is exciting. We sometimes have 90-95 servings of vegetables to dole out, which works out to be about 2-3 portions per person! Often times, these families wouldn’t have access to them otherwise.
FRN: For sure! After a long process, just getting any sort of donations helps! Could you talk about the partner agencies that you are working with?
DB: Across the street from campus is First Presbyterian Church, where we were connected with the http://www.lungomareoakland.com/order/ Cranstons. That’s where our distributions happen. We also work with MICA, Mid-Iowa Community Action. MICA receives non-perishable donations, such as prepackaged snacks from Grinnell College students, and also helped David Cranston to create a voucher system for families to receive meals at distributions. Dining services has also been an incredible help. Dining workers actually will pack up the food for us! All we need to do is pick it up at each meal, put it in our fridge and the following day we take the food for distribution. We’re so lucky to have the support of Dick Williams, Director of Dining Services. He has been exceptionally helpful in getting our program on its feet, and extremely supportive. We can’t thank them enough!
FRN: So that is definitely a pretty widespread network. It is great to see a lot of different pieces coming together! Do you have any advice for any new chapters just starting?
DB: Definitely — specifically for rural chapters – remember that even when things seem really tough, and you keep getting no’s from every direction, keep on pushing! You will be able to get a program started if you persevere! If there is food available and a need for it in your community, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to get a chapter up and running.
Remember, you can find volunteers/partners in places you may have never thought of. Perhaps it wont be just College-to-Food-Bank. It could be a combination; new site, volunteering with community members and groups, lots of diff opportunities to find community partners. Just don’t allow yourself to be stifled when you hear no, because that will be inevitable. You just have to keep moving on!
FRN: Of course!! Sometimes it isn’t really an easy process, and its awesome to see that your chapter pushed through those obstacles. Thanks for your time and keep up the awesome accomplishments that your chapter has made so far!
* To date, the Grinnell College Chapter of FRN has recovered over 750 lbs. of food *
If you want to contact Dylan, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org about his FRN Chapter at Grinnell College, and check out Grinnell College’s Facebook page!