This post was written by our awesome FRNd Jessie Cohen, President of University of Pittsburgh's Food Recovery Heroes. Jessie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food Recovery Heroes, the University of Pittsburgh chapter of FRN, spent a Saturday afternoon in December painting children’s faces. What does this have to do with our mission to reduce food waste on campus and re-purpose surplus food? It has to do with building partnerships, giving back to our community in unique ways, and supporting larger efforts to combat food insecurity.
For the two years that Food Recovery Heroes has existed, we’ve been asked to face paint at the East End Food Co-op’s annual Winterfest. The Food Co-op is Pittsburgh’s only member-owned natural and organic food market, and they hold an event every December to raise money for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Volunteers always have a great time painting faces, sharing what we do on campus, and interacting with the hundreds of community members that come out to support the Food Bank!
After a great time at Winterfest, we kicked off spring semester with additional opportunities beyond recoveries to give back to the Pittsburgh community. Food Recovery Heroes had incredible experiences preparing lunch for people at the Ronald McDonald House and at one of our partner agencies, Jubilee Soup Kitchen!
Volunteers at the Ronald McDonald prepared a vegetable tray, sandwiches, and dessert for families staying at the Ronald McDonald house in order to get world-class care for their children at the Children’s Hospital next door. It was both fun and rewarding to feed families that were beyond appreciative to have a meal prepared for them.
"Many of these families are coming from out of the area, often for longer stretches of time," said Jessica Schatz, the FRH Community Outreach Organizer. "By offering low-cost housing, free meals and other services, Ronald McDonald provides a great resource to these families, who truly need and appreciate the help. ... I'm glad we were able to support their mission!"
Every week, Food Recovery Heroes re-purposes unused trays of hot food from the University of Pittsburgh dining hall to Jubilee Soup Kitchen. But what do they do with the food? Who do they serve? These are the questions our volunteers received answers to as they set up, prepared, and served a meal to the many people who benefit from the soup kitchen!
Food Recovery Heroes VP Emily Hanna says that, “It was really rewarding getting to meet some of the individuals we are regularly donating to and it was great to learn more about all the fantastic services provided by Jubilee.”
These events beyond recoveries got us out into the community and helped us connect with a variety of inspiring organizations. The experience has made it extremely clear that connecting with and feeding our neighbors is just as important (and fun!) as reducing food waste on campus!