FSU's Food Recovery Network Aims to Make Campus More Sustainable

Food Recovery Network Students Next to Car with Donated Food

Whenever we throw away half-eaten or even unused food, it's almost guaranteed that we're doing it unconsciously. Food waste has become an overwhelmingly common act in our country, one so ingrained that it becomes difficult to curb unless someone else points it out to us.

Thankfully, certain groups of people have noticed this harmful pattern, and have started taking action to deal with the food waste that is accumulating all over the country.

The Food Recovery Network is a nationwide organization that is dedicated to "fighting food waste and feeding people." Their purpose is to unite students on college campuses to help recover and donate unsold food to hungry Americans within their communities.

FRN started out with just one guy with a plan and has now grown to include over 100 different chapters in colleges all around the U.S. The various chapters are typically lead by ambitious students who are dedicated to helping others and reducing the amount of waste that's in their local area.

For Florida State University's chapter, juniors Allison Young and Casey Grennan have taken up the cause on behalf of the Tallahassee community. Young and Grennan, FRN FSU's current president and vice president, originally got the idea to start a recovery chapter after seeing a video made by FRN's founder, Ben Simon. The video described in detail what the organization is and how it's helping people all around the country.

"Someone had posted it on Facebook and said 'Wow, this is a really great idea!' Then I watched it and looked to see if we had [a chapter] here, and we didn't. And I thought, 'There's probably so much waste here that we don't even know about,'" Grennan said.

Grennan described how after seeing the video, she and Young got together a group of friends to help start a chapter here on campus. After connecting with FSU's Sustainable Campus, the girls and their new FRN chapter were well on their way to fighting food waste in Tallahassee.

"It all just kind of fell into place," Young said. "Then when we ran into Sustainable Campus [and] that was a huge thing for us, especially [getting in with] Aramark."

After initially starting out with recovering food from only one dining location on FSU's campus, the girls have since expanded their reach to include six different locations, and are working on getting into many more.

"Right now we do Einstein's Bagels, FSU Law School [and] Med School Starbucks, Garnet 'n' Go, The Trading Post, P.O.D. Market, where we recover all of their leftover pre-made salads, sandwiches [and] yogurts," Young said.

The organization also completed two football recoveries last semester in which they gathered up to 500 pounds of leftover food from the stadium after each game.

"That was huge," Young said. "Once they let us into football, I think they loved us and [now] they're happy to have us there."

Soon, FSU's chapter will be starting recoveries on baseball games with the hope to move up to working with the two main dining halls on campus sometime in the near future.

"It's long-term. I think we will get there, and we [Young and Grennan] probably won't see it, but we'll get there eventually," Young said.

After recovering all of the unused food they can from their different locations, FRN's members then take the food to various "partner agencies" around the city, where it is later distributed to people living in shelters or those who are in need of food.

"Everything is pre-packaged," Grennan said. "So we have coolers and volunteers just load the [food] into them. Then we weigh it, see how much we have, and then we take the coolers to different recovery stations around Tallahassee."

The chapter gives the recovered food to six different locations, including, HOPE Community of Big Bend, Good Samaritan Network, ECHO Community and The Shelter.

In addition to recovering food from various dining locations, the organization is also trying to educate students on food waste and sustainability.

Currently, FRN FSU is working on building a garden bed at the Seminole Food Garden, where they plan to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. The organization is also actively involved with Sustainable Campus and hopes that their partnership will give them a greater reach within the FSU community.

With a membership of over 100 people, FSU's FRN chapter is becoming one of the fastest-growing organizations on campus. After recovering over 2,000 pounds of food just last semester, the chapter is eager to see what else they can accomplish and how many more people they can feed.

"I want to see [this organization] continue to grow and become one of the main ones on campus," Young said. "And I would love to see us get into the dining halls."

With the dedication and passion that the chapter's members exude, there is little doubt that FRN FSU will continue to expand and excel in its efforts to fight food waste and feed people around Tallahassee.

The next step is going bigger, and the organization doesn't seem to be stopping for anything when it comes to making FSU's campus more sustainable for everyone.

This article was updated to reflect the following change:

FRN has over 100 different chapters. Previously, the article stated they have over 50.