Gleaning! An Interview With California State University - Fresno

As we say goodbye to the last few cold days of the year, it’s time to turn our attention to gleaning.  If you haven’t heard, gleaning is the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state and county fairs and other food-based institutions and businesses for distribution to the poor and hungry. While some chapters have been gleaning for years now and use it as their primary source of recovered food, other chapters are just getting their footing.  We talked to one school that’s been successfully gleaning on a small scale for awhile now, but just bravely tackled one of their largest recoveries.  California State University, Fresno, led by their Vice President Dalia Dull, successfully managed to recover 3,157 pounds of citrus fruit!  Dalia explains their secrets to success in the following interview.


Describe the location you gleaned from.  How did you find out that this location needed gleaning services?

The location that we gleaned from this time was a private home with a citrus orchard.  It wasn't a commercial farm, but the owner had 170 orange and pomelo trees that he was unable to get harvested and sold this season.  The President of our college met the owner at an event and forwarded the request for gleaning services to our club adviser.

This is what a successful (and dare we say “fruitful”) day of gleaning looks like!

This is what a successful (and dare we say “fruitful”) day of gleaning looks like!


What steps did you take to get ready for the event? How early did you start planning it?

We found out about the event only about two weeks before it was scheduled.  We needed to hold the event as soon as possible due to the condition of the fruit and the weather, so the planning was pretty rushed.  Our adviser contacted our Community Food Bank to orchestrate pickup services.  We knew we would be gleaning hundreds of pounds of fruit, and the food bank was able to deliver large bins on palettes, pick them up, transport, and disperse the fruit. Marian (FRN Fresno State’s current President) and I worked to gather volunteers by emailing almost all campus organizations and clubs, including the sororities, fraternities, and our Honors College. These were the main steps to planning the event:

  1. Contacting the owner of the orchard.
  2. Contacting and arranging the logistics between us and Community Food Bank.
  3. Recruiting volunteers.


What were some challenges you faced during the day of the event?

The biggest challenges we faced with this event were getting it organized in time, and recruiting enough volunteers.


Searching for any leftovers

Searching for any leftovers

Are there any advantages/disadvantages when it comes to doing these large events versus the smaller, more regular ones your chapter does?

Everyone enjoying the “fruits” of their labor

Everyone enjoying the “fruits” of their labor

I have now organized both this large scale gleaning, and several smaller ones, and there are definite advantages and disadvantages to both.  With the large gleanings, much more planning is involved because you need many volunteers and it is more complicated to transport the fruit.  We probably wouldn't have been able to accomplish what we did without the Community Food Bank's help.  However, you get many more people involved, and they always love gleaning after they do it once. You also recover significantly more fruit, and our efforts will improve the next crop for the homeowner.

With small scale gleanings, it is easier to plan on shorter notice because you really only need a few volunteers (depending on how many pickers you have).  We have three pickers, so we usually aim for 4 volunteers. The fruit can be transported in our cars and it is easier to find recipients for the fruit because there simply isn't as much.  In addition, you spread the word about FRN very quickly because homeowners share our information with neighbors and friends.  The homeowners are always so excited for us to come and do something beneficial with their fruit trees, and we do meet such interesting and kind people! You can also reach multiple locations in a day when each home has only one or two trees.


Is there any advice you'd give to chapters looking to start gleaning?

For new chapters just starting out with gleaning, I would suggest making a little card with the chapter's contact info and a brief explanation of their services that they can give out to homeowners.  We go door-to-door in neighborhoods with a lot of trees and leave our card so they can contact us and we can schedule a day.  Also, it is important to decide beforehand where the fruit will go, and make sure there is a location available to donate the fruit.  Bins or buckets are important, too.  Gleaning is an awesome experience, and most people truly find it fun.  When the weather is nice, and you have some music playing, everyone has a great time and the outcome is so rewarding!



Thanks for your hard work, Fresno State!

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FRN Invests in Strongest Asset: People!

Food Recovery Network is pleased to announce the recent promotion of two national staff members to the position of manager. Hannah Cather has been promoted to Program Manager, and Danielle King has been promoted to Finance and Operations Manager.


Hannah Cather (hc, as we call her in the office) joined the FRN National team in August 2015 as a member of FRN’s third class of Fellows. hc first learned of FRN while she was a student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where she volunteered with her chapter, and on a whim decided to attend a national conference co-hosted by FRN. After her first year as a Fellow, hc was hired full-time as FRN’s first-ever Program Associate where she flourished. While an Associate, hc took on a leadership role to train the incoming class of Fellows to learn how to support FRN chapters across the country and build new resources for chapters. It was during her time as Associate that hc also began to represent FRN externally at events such as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, FRN’s partner Post-Landfill Action Network and other externally facing events. Of her commitment to FRN, hc notes, "Every day I come to the office and am reminded of the power student leaders possess. They constantly impact change in their communities through their passion and hard work; they make me proud of the work I do."


As Program Manager, hc is responsible for training and managing Fellows and interns--a responsibility she has taken on with natural ability combined with a desire for ongoing managerial learning. hc understands that the FRN program model demands innovation and scaling to succeed. She works closely with the Executive Director, Regina Northouse, to design and implement programmatic improvements. Look to this fall to see some of these strength-based improvements roll out across the Network.




Danielle King joined the FRN team August, 2016 as FRN’s first-ever Office Coordinator. Danielle drew from her administrative experience working at U-Haul and her managerial experience working at Friendship Hospital to support immediate operational improvements to FRN. As Office Coordinator, Danielle took on the mammoth project of bringing FRN’s bookkeeping in-house, saving FRN money that can now be applied to expanding our network. Danielle also improved FRN systems to be more efficient such as merchandise ordering placed directly to National. The time Danielle has saved the office means we can spend that time connecting with students. Danielle is also FRN’s direct contact for all of FRN’s vendors and has strengthened our connection to these vital relationships.


As Finance and Operations Manager, Danielle will take on more financial responsibilities such as overseeing FRN’s 990 filing and audit. Danielle is also managing the relaunch of Food Recovery Verified (FRV), the program that recognizes food businesses and events for recovering and donating surplus food. Danielle is working closely with Regina to develop a year-long strategy of the program to increase the value-add businesses receive from joining FRV. Danielle will also manage Fellows and interns at FRN, including FRN’s Food Recovery Verified Vista. Danielle noted,  "I love working at FRN because we can deliver on our mission in so many different ways. I am so proud to work for an organization that touches on so many issues. I feel I'm not only making a positive impact at my organization, but also in my community and in some ways the world."


When hc first joined FRN in August 2015, there were 125 FRN chapters across the country. A year later, when Danielle joined FRN in August 2016, FRN had expanded to 187 chapters. Today, because of their work to grow the movement, FRN has 219 chapters across the country in 44 states and we are moments away from recovering our two millionth pound of food--FRN’s biggest milestone since we first began recovering in 2011. FRN’s 2017-2019 strategic plan has the ambitious goal of expanding to 350 chapters across the country and that will only happen with talented individuals like hc and Danielle applying their skills, passion and commitment to the movement.


Please join us in congratulating hc and Danielle in their next step at Food Recovery Network! FRN headquarters always wants to hear from you — if you would like to personally congratulate hc and Danielle, or share your ideas for our programming, please do! Email us at

Zero Waste May, Week 2

The cocktail napkin has been the birthing place of some of the most successful businesses, beloved stories, and brilliant ideas but it’s about time we ditched it. When I walk into a restaurant and I order a glass of wine the cocktail napkin is the first thing I refuse. If I’m getting a drink then “no straw”, if I’m getting food then it better be on a plate with silverware and a cloth napkin or I’m refusing that too.

I’m the living, breathing embodiment of this emoji...  

And we all should be. Saying no isn’t easy but it’s an important first step towards a waste-free world. It can be intimidating to defy social norms and rock the boat by doing something different...but this boat really needs to be rocked and by boldly taking charge of the changes we can make in our own lives we pave the way for others to follow more freely in our footsteps and we let businesses know what matters to their customers, influencing change on a much broader scale.

Here are some tips on saying no and influencing change:

  • Break the cycle by sharing your intentions. When trying to dine out zero waste instead of asking to be served “for here” take the time to explain why and you won’t run the risk of accidentally being served disposables. I have found time and time again that if I say “I’m watching my waste and trying not to use any disposable products” the servers get it right every time. Have your elevator pitch ready to go!

  • Be intentional and thoughtful. There is a fine line between expressing a need and being rude and the last thing you want to do is alienate people from the zero waste movement by creating guilt or shame. Remember that a lot of trash is created from well-intentioned actions, many disposables exist purely for the sake of convenience or to make you feel taken care of. Share with friends and family what you’re trying to do, set clear boundaries for yourself, and be patient when people slip up or forget.


"Planes are a great place to refuse single-use disposables. Make sure to think ahead and bring your own snacks with your own utensils, I always have a handkerchief on hand so I don't need any napkins or tissues, and I carry on my own beverage in my own container."

"If the a business won't put your food to-go in your own container then order it for here and then put it in your own containers yourself. Easy way to work around it and while it's not ideal that those dishes have to be washed there is significantly more water wasted when you use a plastic container once and then throw it away than washing a couple extra plates in a dishwasher."

But you can’t just get comfortable with saying also need to accept people saying no to you. I’m constantly fending off single-use disposables but I’m also regularly making requests to use alternative reusable products and sometimes I get turned down. One week I went into my local grocery store and asked if they could sell me fish in my own pyrex and the fishmonger was more than happy to oblige. Later that week I walked into the same grocery store to get some ground turkey and made the same request and was given a firm no. Sometimes you lose the zero waste battle but it never hurts to ask.

I’m sure you’ve seen this video of the solo dancer at Sasquatch who started a movement (if not, go watch it now). I love this video because it reminds me that it only takes one person to start doing something differently to effect change. We can all be this guy dancing our way through life a little differently than the rest, defying norms and opting for zero waste. It won’t take long before others catch on that dancing is so much better than sitting

Pledge to waste less this the change in this world that we so desperately need...but most of all...will you dance with me ?

FRN Reaches 2 Million Pounds of Food Recovered for Those in Need


CONTACT: Regina Northouse, Food Recovery Network, +1 (240) 615-8813,

Food Recovery Network Reaches 2 Million Pounds of Food Recovered for Those in Need

College Park, Maryland - Food Recovery Network has officially recovered over 2 million pounds of surplus food, that would have otherwise gone to waste, for those in need. FRN is a network of college students across the country who package perfectly good surplus food from their campus dining halls and surrounding businesses. The collective commitment of these students to fighting food waste and hunger enabled  FRN to achieve the biggest milestone since recoveries began.

Food Recovery Network, America’s largest student organization against food waste, was founded in 2011 on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park  (UMD). Since its founding through a generous grant from Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, FRN has transformed from a UMD campus club to a 501(c)3 non-profit headquartered in College Park, Maryland and has chapters across the country.

The U.S. food system is marked by an alarming paradox: nearly 40 percent of food produced in the US goes to waste, while 48.1 million Americans experience food insecurity each year (NRDC 2016; USDA 2015). Food waste is not only a social and economic loss, costing Americans $218 billion every year; it’s also one of the world’s worst environmental hazards. Food waste accounts for 25 percent of freshwater use and constitutes 23 percent of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide (FAO 2013). Regina Northouse, FRN’s Executive Director since 2015 notes, “This achievement is a testament to the power of college students to make immediate, positive impacts in their communities. We’ve heard it loud and clear that food waste is an important issue to this generation of emerging leaders, and they’re willing to put the work in to solve what has turned out to be a huge problem in America. They’re changing the dialogue from food waste to food recovery, and people are listening.”

FRN reached its first million pounds of food recovered in 2015 after four years of growth and strengthening their ability to recover more food in their communities. It has taken the organization a little over a year and a half to recover the second million. FRN Program Manager Hannah Cather says “I’m incredibly proud of our student leaders today because in a fraction of the time, they were able to recover a second million. When I left the office one day, we were two thousand pounds away from the milestone. The next day, I came to work and realized students had submitted recovery information for more than 20,000 pounds! We blew our goal out of the water.”

Allison Blakely, a senior student leader at Rochester Institute of Technology, said "Last year when we hit one million pounds of food donated and diverted from landfills I didn't think I would still be a student when we did it again. Now a year later, I couldn't be prouder of how this organization has grown.”

Micah Heaney, the chapter leader at Goucher College, said "FRN is more than a student group. It's a movement. As a member of FRN, I've worked with dining hall staff, staff and clients at a transitional shelter, students at countless campuses, national leadership, community-based learning staff, passionate professors, local activists, and national sponsors. Nothing brings people together like food. FRN makes this a foundation of social and environmental transformation."

Stay tuned as FRN continues to expand its network across the country to support higher education in being the first sector where food recovery is the norm and not the exception.


About Food Recovery Network

Food Recovery Network (FRN) unites and supports college student leaders in the fight against food waste and hunger in America. Since 2011, FRN students have recovered over 2 million pounds of surplus food, that would otherwise go to waste, from their campus cafeterias and local restaurants to donate to hungry Americans. Food Recovery Network has over 220 college campus chapters in 44 states and the District of Columbia. For more information about Food Recovery Network, including how they support businesses who want to do the right thing and recover their surplus food through their program, Food Recovery Verified, visit Social media: Twitter @FoodRecovery and Instagram @FoodRecovery and Facebook



In the month of May I’m refusing coffee on the go, saying no to candy bars, passing up gum, avoiding Amazon, and striving for zero waste. No I’m not some masochist who wants to be under caffeinated with stinky breath and deprived of all the joys that come with online shopping...I’m doing this to waste less.

Striving for zero waste means I’m living my life in a way that generates as little waste to landfill as possible (and really as little waste to recycling and compost as possible for reasons I’ll explain in a later post). And I’ve upped the ante by doing it for a cause: raising money for Food Recovery Network.

Why zero waste?

  • Garbage is bad. Nothing EVER really goes away. When we put things in a bin to be hauled off our trash doesn’t actually disappear. At best it gets piled in a landfill where it never breaks down and while sitting there it emits greenhouse gasses. At worst it escapes and finds it’s way into our waterways and oceans poisoning our environment, destroying habitats, and polluting our beautiful world.

  • When we waste ANYTHING, we waste all the precious resources and energy that went into producing that product.

  • It’s actually not that hard to go zero waste. It’s something we can all do. It’s painful to hear about the effects of climate change every day and feel powerless. I will not stand by while our world is enveloped in trash, I can and will take action. This is empowering, I can make a difference.

Why for a cause?

  • Accountability. It’s motivating to do the right thing when it’s for something greater than me.

  • Community. It’s better when we’re all in this together. I can learn from you, you can learn from me, and we can be better and do better because of it.

  • Cause duh! Food Recovery Network is an extension of my zero waste values, they’re an organization empowering students to recover excess food that traditionally would go to waste, and redistribute it to people in need. My heart is 100% behind that mission.

Rules to live by

So the zero waste challenge works like this: for the month of May I’m going to try not to create any landfill waste. When I do, I have to put a $1 in a jar to donate to FRN (think of it like a swear jar, but my problem isn’t a dirty mouth, it’s a dirty garbage bin).

And to make things fun, if you donate $15 or more to FRN during this challenge, I will extend the challenge another day.

And to really increase the stakes, if you donate $15 or more to FRN and you pledge to strive for zero waste too, I will donate an additional $1 for each piece of landfill trash I generate during the challenge.

Throughout the month I’ll share tips on how to reduce waste in your own life through my successes and blunders. My goal is three-fold:

  1. Waste less in my own life

  2. Inspire you to waste less in your own life

  3. Raise over a $1,000 for FRN in the process

“The world doesn’t need saving. The world needs folks who are willing to save themselves and be humble enough to serve when and where they are needed.” - Chani Nicholas

I’m not going to save the world by going zero waste, but I’m asking you to join me in saving ourselves from trash with the hope that in changing our habits and empowering organizations like FRN who serve when and where they are needed, we can make this world a better place. Will you join me?