One person at a time, one pound at a time


It happens one student and one pound at a time. Every evening, volunteers arrive at campus kitchens across the U.S. to recover food in a careful process that involves checking food temperature for safety, weighing and repacking the food, and delivering it to area organizations in need. DC-area chapters partner with the Christian Life Center in Riverdale, Family Crisis Center in Brentwood and the Central Union Mission, in DC.

At UMD College Park, collections happen most nights at 9:45, whereas another campus in the network has to pick up at 6:00 a.m. on Saturdays. These times are anathema to most college students, but FRN students are committed, and together they make a difference.

 Food Recovery at UMD College Park/ Photo by Jason Souder

Food Recovery at UMD College Park/Photo by Jason Souder

The time, it seems, is right for food justice.

So what’s been stopping us before? Sara Gassman, FRN’s Director of Member Support and Communications, cites misinformation as one of the most common barriers to food recovery.

“Not everyone is aware of the Good Samaritan Act, which protects donors acting in good faith,” she said. The policy, enacted in 1996, protects food donors from liability when they have followed all measures to keep food donations safe from collection through delivery. “Another difficulty is that there are no national guidelines for what’s acceptable to be recovered. We have to research a lot of health codes.”

 Food Recovery at Lycoming College, Williamsport, Penn./ Photo by Jason Souder

Food Recovery at Lycoming College, Williamsport, Penn./Photo by Jason Souder

But for Gassman, who describes her involvement with FRN as “eye-opening,” all the work pouring through arcane local regulations is worth it when she gets to engage with students at regional and national conferences.

“It’s a chance to meet and see that we’re all part of something bigger than ourselves. We’re really facilitating change in the way people view food surplus.” (Next)

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