School: State University Environmental Sciences & Forestry (SUNY ESF), New York
Major: Environmental Science
Minor: Food Studies
FRN Experience: Started as a volunteer driving the recoveries to the partner agency and then became president, a position she held for 3 years.
Job: Administrative Program Coordinator with Catholic Charities
Favorite Food: Pomegranates or Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)
“Breaking Bread.” An expression commonly meaning to share a meal with someone dating back long before FRN was founded. Food and hunger are two things that can bring different cultures together. Shewa Shwani demonstrates how being a part of FRN and recovery can bring people together. From educating peers about her experience as a Muslim woman in the United States to leading a movement against food waste and hunger in her community, she has always been involved in volunteer work to help those in need. Whether it be in a soup kitchen, working with refugees and tutoring those who need help with their English, helping people is her passion. In her role at Catholic Charities and through volunteer work with We Rise Above the Streets, she continues to incorporate food recovery and service into her everyday life, making an impact in her community.
“Some of the best conversations and communities are built over food.”
Food recovery and service build connections between communities that do not always have the opportunity to cross roads or find common round. For example, her chapter helped unite Syracuse University, a private institution, with State University of New York Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), a public one. She received the Unsung Hero Award as a recognition of her work in 2016.
She also spoke at FRN’s national conference National Food Recovery Dialogue (NFRD). At NFRD we ask our FRNds to submit their personal stories from the front lines of food recovery, in a segment called This Recovered Life. Shewa was selected to talk about how she brought communities together. Shewa states, “I went from not caring about the environment to caring about the environment so much. I went through the journey of bettering myself as a person and to help other people better themselves.” Her presence and stories touched those around the country who have had the pleasure of hearing her speak or working with her. Those friendships and connections have stayed strong even after graduation
In her work now, Shewa lifts up those from homelessness and she helps homeless shelters find resources that they need. Now that she is out of school she is getting more involved with We Rise Above the Streets, a local Syracuse nonprofit that works to alleviate hunger and homelessness. Shewa is interested in working with them to coordinate events. We Rise Above the Streets founding goal was to feed the homeless in Syracuse, NY. They started as a small group of volunteers making peanut butter sandwiches on Saturday’s underneath a bridge, now it has grown into a sizable operation that provides clothing and hygienic toiletries for the homelessness.
“Food is a right and a basic human need and not everyone has access to that.”
When Shewa was at SUNY, she ensured that one out of five recoveries would be donated to We Rise Above the Streets. Last summer after graduation she also helped organize the first cookout fundraiser event for We Rise Above the Streets. We’re excited to see what Shewa’s next impact on her community will be.