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Feeding the homeless: The Food Recovery Network


By: Andrea Stafford, digital content/marketing coordinator

Late in the spring semester, several graduating seniors in the coordinated program in dietetics realized the extent of food waste as a result of a class assignment. The students decided to further investigate the extent of food waste among college students by working with Sodexo, TCU’s food services company, to create a foundation for their study. This has led to several expanded efforts to eliminate food waste, and subsequently impacted individuals in the Fort Worth community who experience food insecurity.

The Food Recovery Network (FRN) is a student-driven movement on college campuses across the nation that seeks to address food waste and hunger. In May 2013, the Sodexo Foundation assisted FRN to transition into a non-profit organization, and also provided funding for a full-time staff member.

Photo courtesy of Grace Dieb

With a partnership through Sodexo, unserved food that would typically go to waste is collected from the Market Square dining hall and most recently, from leftover food served at home football game concession stands, clubs, and suites. This allows former food waste to become well-used resources that help sustain homeless populations and clients of Union Gospel Mission for several days.

Twice a week, student volunteers make deliveries to Union Gospel Mission. The students along with Sodexo staff members also make deliveries on the Monday following home football games. The first delivery after a game included more than 1,000 pounds of food.

“The Food Recovery Network has been a great addition to TCU Dining Services, and students look for an opportunity to help,” said Michal Dahl, general manager, TCU Dining Services. “Sodexo has been a partner and sponsor of FRN for some time and we have been delighted to be a part of starting the program at TCU.”

Food being loaded up for delivery (photo courtesy of Grace Dieb)

Gina Hill, associate professor of nutritional sciences and faculty advisor to the Food Recovery Network student chapter at TCU, says the group has grown significantly in number of student volunteers since the start of the semester, and the organization includes students from different areas of study beyond nutritional sciences. She says Sodexo’s management and employees have also been instrumental in the success of the organization.

“The FRN started out as a dream to feed the local homeless and has evolved into something so much more,” said Megan McCracken, senior communications studies and Spanish double major and TCU’s FRN president. “The program is fighting hunger, feeding people and connecting the TCU community with the needs of Fort Worth. It has become a tangible outlet for students to direct their desire to give back, a passion that is found in so many at TCU.”

“This program has been such a great success, and we are hoping to maintain the momentum and draw attention to the issues of food waste through the Food Recovery Network,” said Hill. “Students also serve food to the homeless at Union Gospel Mission once a month, which was not in the original plan.”

“The organization has taught me to be more aware of food waste, and encouraging others to be conscious about their eating decisions and food storage,” said Grace Dieb, senior double major in strategic communication and Spanish and public relations coordinator for TCU’s FRN chapter. “This program has changed our campus community and has helped so many Fort Worth citizens who are in need of a meal.”

“FRN has changed the way I see the food industry and I have been continually amazed by the generosity of all those involved in this operation, especially Sodexo for selflessly donating all the leftover food,” said McCracken.

“We are so thankful for Sodexo for being incredibly generous in donating food to the Union Gospel Mission,” said Dieb.

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Photo courtesy of Grace Dieb

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