Nonprofits that Work

A t an age when most college stu- dents are wrapped up in exams, parties, sports, and courting, a few stu- dents at the University of Maryland, College Park, noticed a problem: huge amounts of leftover food from cam- pus dining halls and sports events be- ing thrown away. While students were enjoying meals in dining halls, 1 in 8 people in the Washington, D.C. area were struggling with hunger. Additionally, food from the dining halls was sitting in landfills, contributing to global warming. In 2011, three students from different campus organizations formed the Food Recovery Network (FRN) at UMD. They assembled a team, got student groups to volunteer, and worked with Dining Services to start recovering leftover food. In the first weeks, students recovered 150-200 pounds of food a day. Every night, a different student group on campus would spend an hour recovering food from the dining halls and donating it to shelters in the D.C. area. By the time the year was over, the group had donated 30,000 meals to D.C.-area shelters. Ben Simon and Mia Zavalij, two of the founders of the UMD program, began to wonder about food recovery at other schools. Why doesn’t every American college recover food? How much good food is going to waste each year on college campuses? They discovered that many colleges had no recovery program in place and, furthermore, countless people didn’t even know that recovering food was possible! In January 2012, students from four colleges created a national Food Recovery Network, with a mission of creating food recovery programs on every college campus in the

Post wrote about them again. In 2013, the Washington Post featured them for a third time and they were spotlighted on the Melissa Harris Perry Show on MSNBC. In May 2013, the Sodexo Foundation, whose mission is to put an end to child hunger, took note of the huge role FRN was playing in achieving this mission and provided a grant allowing the organization to rapidly expand its impact. FRN formed a partnership with Sodexo and one with Bon Appetit, another national dining service provider. By this time, FRN had grown to 25 campuses from Massachusetts to California. In July 2013, funding was in place for the organization’s first full-time staff member dedicated to working one-on-one with students across the country.This allowed FRN to mentor new campus groups and provide support to the existing FRN programs. At the end of July, Ben Simon, Founder and Executive Director of FRN, was featured as a top-five finalist on VH1’s Do Something Awards in Los Angeles. The entire team flew out to support him, and he took home a $10,000 prize and won the attention of over 300 new students interested in starting programs. As of January 2015,FRNhas chapters at more than 113 colleges in 30 states and the District of Columbia, and has recovered over 617,000 pounds of food, establishing partnerships with Sodexo, Bon Appetit, Chartwells, and many independent dining providers. Now meet Ben Simon of Food Recovery Network.

country. Students at Brown University formed the second chapter of FRN, which recovered 6,000 pounds of food in its first semester. That same month, FRN joined forces with two existing food recovery programs, Bare Abundance at the University of California, Berkeley and Food Rescue at Pomona College. A National Leadership Team of seven students from these four schools began meeting to discuss expansion. FRN reached out to students at other schools who were interested in starting food recovery programs on their campuses and developed materials to guide students through the process. The results were immediate. By November 2012, students at four schools (RISD, Providence College, UT-Austin, and Harvey Mudd/Claremont McKenna/Scripps) had started food recovery programs and joined the network, and more were on the way. In April 2012, FRN entered the Do Good Challenge with Kevin Bacon and won the grand prize of $5,000. In July, they won the $15,000 national grand prize at the Ashoka Banking on Youth Competition. Not long after, the organization was featured in the Washington Post and obtained 501(c)(3) status. The press coverage continued. In October, FRNwas on ABCNews,and theWashington

12 I Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine

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