Kalamazoo, MI
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Student Life

Food Recovery Network Turns Leftovers to Lunches

What happens to all the leftover food in the cafeteria?

At Kalamazoo College, where our motto translates to “ be light” on our environment, all of our leftovers go straight from our dishes into the dumpster.

Senior Calli Brannan was shocked to discover that despite numerous campus initiatives to promote environmental responsibility, our excess cafeteria food is regularly thrown out. “They put clear containers out last year to show us how much food we were wasting every single day. And that was just the scraps from our plates, not including the leftovers that hadn’t been eaten,” Brannan said.

Inspired, Brannan discovered the Food Recovery Network (FRN), a national organization committed to reducing food waste on college campuses by bringing leftover food to local homeless shelters. The FRN has 150 chapters nationwide and has recovered over 883,229 pounds of food since 2011, according to the FRN’s National website.

Brannan plans on packaging the leftover food from the cafeteria into travel safe containers and transporting it to homeless shelters in the community for distribution. After every trip, Brannan will report back to the national organization how many pounds of food were recovered.

“Our goal is to reach or exceed the amount of food recovered by the other leading universities in the program. I know we’re small, but we can do it,” Brannan said.

The group is looking for registered drivers to help transport the food from the campus to the community. As a student organization, the group must use the campus cars in place of personal vehicles.

The club also offers a relatively small time commitment, with students able to sign-up for shifts according to their own schedules. After an initial training meeting, the group plans to meet only once a quarter, as the process itself will be largely self-sustaining.

As this is the first year of the Network’s operation at K, the club will be considered an interest group for the first quarter. The group plans on executing their first “food drop” during fifth week, after they have acquired cafeteria approval and a shelter with appropriate storage facilities.

“This club stands for sustainability and reducing our food waste while at the same time fighting hunger in our local community,” said Maddie LeVasseur K’16, Secretary of K’s chapter of FRN. Anyone interested in getting involved can contact Brannan, calli.Brannan12@kzoo.edu, or LeVasseur, madeline.LeVasseur12@kzoo.edu.

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Food Recovery Network Turns Leftovers to Lunches