FRN Student Leaders Honored for their Leadership and Public Service

We think our FRNds are pretty great, and their communities seem to agree. Congratulations to these seven FRN chapters and student leaders for receiving awards!

If your chapter or a representative of your chapter received recognition for your work this school year and is not listed, please let us know by emailing us at programs@foodrecoverynetwork.org. Here are some of the awards FRN chapters won this semester: 

1. chloe dyer, ohio wesleyan university2018 Charles J. Ping Student Service Award; Legacy Award mini-grant

“I started the Food Recovery Network to address a community need, but in taking the initiative to start a chapter, I also gained confidence. I now know that I can make a difference in another person’s life. Most importantly, as I graduate from Ohio Wesleyan, I leave with the conviction that I have the ability to affect meaningful change in my community.”
— Chloe Dyer, Founder of FRN at Ohio Wesleyan University
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  Left to right: Elizabeth Paraley, Addison Davari, Lillian McEntire, Victoria Marcelle, Leah Evans

Left to right: Elizabeth Paraley, Addison Davari, Lillian McEntire, Victoria Marcelle, Leah Evans

  Left to right: (back row)   Baseer Quraishi, Ruth Suh,   (middle row)   Roya Karim, Nishita Koottiyanil, Pooja Naik, Heba Hoelscher, Dina Achi, (front row) Nisha Sabapathy, Zeel Vora, Jameil Dowding

Left to right: (back row) Baseer Quraishi, Ruth Suh, (middle row) Roya Karim, Nishita Koottiyanil, Pooja Naik, Heba Hoelscher, Dina Achi, (front row) Nisha Sabapathy, Zeel Vora, Jameil Dowding

  Left to right: Sadie Addis, Sarah Lackey, Brielle Jacobowitz, Abby Gustafson, Meredith Lockard, Cameron Warren

Left to right: Sadie Addis, Sarah Lackey, Brielle Jacobowitz, Abby Gustafson, Meredith Lockard, Cameron Warren

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  Left to right: Christina Fong, Julissa Tobias, Justina Chock

Left to right: Christina Fong, Julissa Tobias, Justina Chock

National Movement, Local Organizing: Highlights from the 2018 FRN Regional Summits

Food Recovery Network is a people-powered movement. From the volunteers who glean from the historic orange groves at California State University-Northridge, to the “soup cuppers” at Cabrini University, our FRNds are changing their communities. Over the last six weeks, members of the FRN National Team and I had the opportunity to travel across the country and meet FRN student leaders at the nine Regional Summits in Tampa, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; Los Angeles; Houston; San Diego; Baltimore; Biddeford, Maine; Philadelphia; and Minneapolis. The ten Regional Outreach Coordinators worked tirelessly to coordinate action-oriented, engaging, and empowering regional gatherings.

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Each summit was unique and reflective of the diverse community members who gathered together. Some summits catered to folks who were new to the network and looking to learn more about FRN and food recovery basics. Other summits featured roundtables for official chapters to discuss the programs they’ve refined over the last four years. Community members from various sectors shared their professional experience, like Barbara Heitman Bronstein, founder of Second Servings of Houston, a community food rescue organization. Bronstein explained how volunteers wearing branded vests helped boost the organization’s reputation in the community, leading to more partners and volunteers. Patrick Walsh, Pantry Manager at Martha’s Choice Marketplace in Norristown, Pa., shared a list of 10 things students could do to support their partner agencies; first and foremost: listen to their needs. Partner agencies’ needs vary greatly. The attendees at the summit in Tampa, Fla. spent a few hours completing various farm upkeep work at the Sustainable Living Project, a community garden and education center. In Baltimore, the attendees prepared chili and cornbread at Sarah’s Hope, a shelter serving homeless families.

Attendees at every summit had something from their food recovery journey to contribute to the conversation. Some chapters’ full leadership team was present; others were only able to send one representative to gather as much information and report back to the team. There were supportive staff advisors, graduating seniors passing the baton, and first-year students preparing to tackle the challenge of leading a chapter. Take Colin, Iowa State University ‘19, for example. He drove three hours to attend the FRN Summit in Minneapolis because he’s already thinking about the sustainability of the chapter. Colin wants to ensure the next team is as prepared as possible after he graduates. Alicia Magallanes, Basic Needs Coordinator at UC San Diego’s Student Affairs Case Management Services office, has spent her time as a staff advisor advocating for increased fund delegation to the FRN Chapter. She encouraged students to recognize who has access to school money and who can serve as your ally in those conversations. These are just two of the many wonderful FRNds I had the pleasure of meeting.

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When I’m in the FRN National office, I’m usually interacting with students and answering their questions through email or on the phone. At the summits, I had the chance to look student leaders in the eye and recognize “we are in this fight against food waste and hunger together.”

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This Network is comprised of chapters that are conducting food recoveries simultaneously, whether they're across town from each other or on opposite coasts of the country. We are feeding our communities together, yet we rarely get a chance to gather together, see our neighbors, and reflect on the power of this movement. As much as the summits were about community, they were also about sharing best practices. “Don’t reinvent the wheel, use the work of your peers” was a theme throughout conversations. Notes were scrawled on tables covered in paper, emails were shared, Facebook friend requests were sent – all in the name of learning from one another. The FRN National team is committed to developing the tools and resources that will allow our students to continue to connect and share ideas.

Robert Egger of LA. Kitchen reminded those of us at the LA Summit that “it’s never easy when you challenge the norm.” As we continue to show the United States what the largest student movement against food waste and hunger looks like, we are recognizing the power of our peers and taking every opportunity we can to learn from them. We’ll be FRNds forever.

Recovered Food Donations From Sodexo at Trinity Medical Center Make Nonprofit Expansion Possible

At Urban Mission Ministries (UMM), receiving food donations made organizational expansion a reality. On April 17, 2018, Sodexo at Trinity Medical Center, located in Steubenville, Ohio, became Food Recovery Verified. All of the prepared food Trinity donates goes to UMM, a  faith-based organization that provides food, shelter, and other essential services to low-income residents of the Ohio Valley.

About six years ago, UMM started picking up frozen prepared food donations from Trinity Medical Center. They continue to pick up donations every Thursday and reheat and repurpose the food for their weekly hot meal service from the Unity Kitchen. As time has gone on, the consistency of donations has allowed UMM to expand their operations to serve and support thousands of people throughout the community.

On January 1, 2018, UMM took over the City Rescue Mission homeless shelter which houses anywhere from 25 to 30 people at any given time. In order to feed additional people, UMM originally planned to hire a weekend cook. However, they realized they could channel the recovered foods donated from Trinity Medical Center for these weekend meals.

Now, UMM is able to feed those staying in the shelter over the weekends exclusively using donated foods that are reheated and repurposed. “This was a perfect match,” said Rick Patterson, UMM warehouse director. “Trinity was sending [the food] in a way that was perfect for us to use [for our meal service at the shelter].”

In 2017, Trinity Medical Center donated 5,192 pounds of food to UMM from their East and West campuses. UMM has been able to streamline their processes by directing donations into specific freezers based on where the food will be utilized. “The program [with Trinity] was set up very well and has run seamlessly since our partnership started,” Patterson said.

Reliable donations from Trinity Medical Center prove that food recovery can be standardized. These consistent donations are instrumental to UMM being able to serve hot, healthy meals to those in their shelter throughout the year.

Food Recovery Network is proud to verify that Trinity Medical Center is donating its surplus food to Urban Mission Ministries.

Trinity Medical Center’s recovery program and verified status were highlighted in a local news segment. Check it out here: http://wtov9.com/news/local/trinity-health-system-is-food-recovery-verified

Alumni Spotlight: Diana Myers, Georgia State University '17

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Diana Myers has been passionate about food waste, nutrition, and helping others since she was young. Like a number of other FRN leaders, Diana didn’t settle until she knew she was making a difference. After three years at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia, Diana decided she needed more time to figure out what she was meant to do. Diana spent a few months traveling in Southeast Asia, after which she returned to Georgia, where she finished her bachelor’s degree in the Didactic Program in Dietetics at Georgia State University in 2017.  

Through getting to know some upperclassmen nutrition students, Diana became involved with Panther Food Recovery Network (PFRN) at GSU through getting to know some upperclassmen nutrition students, where she served as the Partner Agency Coordinator, allowing her to connect directly with people the chapter was serving. She saw the extraordinary need in her community firsthand and acknowledged how FRN could be a part in filling that need. Motivated by her experience in this role, Diana became Co-President and Volunteer Coordinator of the chapter. With a team of six other students alongside her, Diana dove in “119” (that’s her lucky number) percent to make sure things went smoothly. The food recovery program was so successful that the team was awarded a $17,000 grant from the Georgia State University Office of Sustainability, to purchase freezers, marketing materials, pans, and other supplies.

One of Diana’s favorite memories with FRN happened while having a conversation with an employee of SafeHouse Outreach, one of PFRN’s partner agencies. He raved about how PFRN had increased the organization’s ability to serve nutritious food. Instead of serving frozen pancakes and spaghetti to its patrons, SafeHouse Outreach was able to provide roasted vegetables, baked chicken, clam chowder, wild rice and more. The employee noted that these new options helped their guests feel comfortable while going through a tough time in their lives. “They were so appreciative and it made my heart grow in infinite ways,” Diana recalled. “This is the feeling that I want to continue having through the work that I do.”

After this experience and more like it, Diana knew she wanted to keep working to fight food waste and hunger after she graduated. She received her bachelor’s degree in May 2017 and began pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition at Georgia State University.  The program requires students to rotate between community, clinical, management, and enrichment settings. In her Food Service Management rotation with Marietta City Schools, Diana worked with a team to develop and assess best practices of share tables within its school system. Share tables allow students to choose which food they want to eat on their plate, rather than throwing away unwanted food. As a soon-to-be dietitian, Diana recognizes that food waste also wastes nutrients that could help someone be healthier and happier.

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“We can really drive [waste reduction],” Diana said, “and teach about solutions that get nutritious food into areas that need them.” A self-titled “food waste nerd,” Diana says it was her experience with PFRN that formed her love for this work and shaped the career path she chose.

To current FRN students, Diana has some advice: “It's all about building relationships, showing appreciation to the people who help you, and staying strong in your beliefs. Know that you are making an impact as part of a nationwide movement. Educating our fellow peers is critical. Just one conversation could change the way that people cook, purchase their food, and give back to their community. Then, if those people talk to their friends, the awareness grows; we can make a huge difference from one conversation!”

Thank you for all you’ve done to fight waste and feed people, Diana!

Are you an FRN alumnus? If so, we want to stay in touch! Fill out the Alumni Survey on our website here. You just might be featured in our upcoming spotlight series!

Have questions/comments about our growing alumni network? Want to nominate an alumnus for doing great work? Contact Sarah Diamond, Alumni Programs VISTA, at alumni@foodrecoverynetwork.org.

NYC Event Fights Food Waste

What happens to the leftover food after a large catered event? Some of it might get sent home with event staff, some might get composted. Most of it, however, ends up in the garbage and is destined for a landfill. A great deal of hard work, careful consideration, money, and resources go into coordinating the preparation, transportation, and presentation of catered food; it is a shame for it to be dumped into the trash and go uneaten.  Implementing a food recovery plan at an event saves money, reduces negative environmental impacts, and helps the community.

NationSwell, a social media impact company, wanted to ensure they did the right thing with their surplus food after their 2017 Fall Summit, an annual event where media innovators and influencers gather to inspire change in the coming year. The company’s mission is “focusing America on solutions, not just problems.” That mission guides their work in the social media sector, and they proved to be just as solution-oriented when planning their event. NationSwell worked with us at Food Recovery Network (FRN) to plan a recovery and get their Fall Summit Food Recovery Verified.

Our team helped NationSwell establish a food recovery plan and coordinate logistics to have the food picked up and delivered to a nonprofit who could redistribute the food. First, we identified all of the food items that could be recovered. Then, we talked through techniques for sending out food in phases rather than all at once and replenishing serving dishes to optimize the amount of food that could be salvaged. We recruited students from the New York University (NYU) FRN chapter, Two Birds One Stone, to pick up the food after the event. Lastly, we coordinated with NationSwell and the NYU volunteers to determine the best time for recovery and confirm that the volunteers had access to the event to collect the food donations.

  Lanie, NYU student, wheeling extra food from NationSwell Fall Summit for donation to The Bowery Mission.  

Lanie, NYU student, wheeling extra food from NationSwell Fall Summit for donation to The Bowery Mission.  

When the students arrived, the food had been already cooled down to the proper temperature, 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below,  and the event staff had packaged the food in pans for transportation. Our FRN student leaders delivered 215 pounds of surplus food to The Bowery Mission in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. That translates to 179 meals going to people in need rather than going to a landfill. Founded in 1879, the Bowery Mission helps people rebuild their lives and get out of  “cycles of poverty, hopelessness, and dependencies of many kinds.” Last year they were able to provide 505,000 meals to those in need. This recovery was a small, yet significant contribution to the larger efforts of the Bowery Mission.

FRN provided NationSwell with the tools and resources to plan and execute a recovery. With our help, they were able to support the local community by providing the edible surplus to a venerable NYC nonprofit. Putting a recovery plan in place is a simple solution to ensure surplus food from catered events goes towards alleviating hunger rather than negatively impacting the environment. We look forward to working with NationSwell again in the future to support their events through our program Food Recovery Verified. If you are interested in working with FRN to recover food from your next event, apply here: https://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org/frv-apply-events