Students at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY-ESF for short, are helping their local homeless shelters feed its patrons. The students are, in conjunction with SUNY-ESF and Syracuse University’s chapter of the Food Recovery Network, are collecting food from dining halls and donating it to local shelters.
In a report compiled by Syracuse.com, the initiative at SUNY-ESF is an extension of the national Food Recovery Network that was founded in 2011 by then University of Maryland student, Ben Simon. Initially started as a means to cut down on the amount of food being thrown out Maryland, the program has since spread to over 110 chapters at colleges and universities across 31 states, each collecting food from dining halls and distributing it to those in need.
The national chapter chipped in with a $500 grant to the organizers of the Syracuse project to fund items like gloves, tarps and food trays. The Food Recovery Network also provided a list of charities in the SUNY-ESF area that may need support.
Each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday night, student volunteers collect food from SUNY-ESF’s Trailhead Café and the university’s Graham Dining Hall — food that would otherwise be sent out for compost. The SUNY-ESF students conducted their first food run this past October, and have since donated more than 3,500 pounds of food. The SUNY-ESF project has also grown to include 53 active volunteers.
For now, the three founders of the project are in the process of training new officers that will take the reins when the current officers graduate. There are further plans for the project to become a recognized university club, so as to help with fundraising efforts for gas and other project resources.
With waste being an ever-present concern in the university dining hall, there are certainly resourceful ways that a campus can get more out of the food it provides for students. And as the Food Recovery Network and SUNY-ESF have shown, a campus can help to support the surrounding community in the process.