Students at SUNY ESF are feeding people and fighting food waste through their work with the local chapter of the Food Recovery Network (FRN), an organization that delivers leftover dining hall food to those in need.
Student volunteers collect untouched or pre-packaged food from dining halls at neighboring Syracuse University and ESF’s own Trailhead Café and distribute it to area non-profits.
When the dining halls and café close at the end of the day, there is plenty of food left on the buffet line. ESF students take the food and deliver it to shelters in the City of Syracuse. The food meets all health codes and has not been touched by consumers.
The food is delivered to the Dorothy Day Shelter for Women, a neighborhood shelter for at-risk women and children, and the DePalmer House which provides transitional housing for the homeless. The food not only helps the shelters’ budgets as they don’t have to spend money on buying and preparing food, but also keeps thousands of pounds of food out of the landfill.
Volunteers go out five days a week on “recoveries” to collect and transport the food, said club President Shewa Shwani, a sophomore biotechnology major. On Tuesdays and Thursdays there are two recoveries because along with the regular FRN volunteers a number of other campus clubs assist in the food deliveries as their community service project.
The chapter at ESF is one of nine at universities across New York state. More than 3,500 pounds of food has been recovered since the network started and it now has several dozen volunteers.