Have you ever stopped to think about what football programs do with the massive amounts of leftover food they have after home games? At TCU, the Food Recovery Network (FRN) ensures it finds its way to the less fortunate. FRN has chapters on college and university campuses in 46 states, making higher education the first sector where food recovery is the norm and not the exception. It’s the largest student-led movement fighting food waste and working to end hunger in America.
Maddie Jacobs, FRN president, is a senior combined B.S./M.S. dietetics major. She plans to take the national exam following graduation to become a registered dietitian, with a larger goal of going into public health and anti-hunger advocacy work. She has been involved with FRN since her freshman year.
Jacobs says, “According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Report on Household Food Insecurity, the rate of food insecurity in the U.S. was 10.5% (1 in 10 people) in December of 2019, which has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, more than 40% of food is wasted each year.” In addition to reducing food insecurity within the community, the FRN also reduces the amount of food that goes into the landfill, which helps to protect the environment.
“Following TCU football games, the catering team packages and prepares the leftover food based on regulations set by our participating shelters and then the FRN volunteers deliver the food in their cars to one of our two drop-off locations. FRN's Service and Shelter Coordinator, Rachel Ellman, makes sure there are volunteers signed up for each delivery date and that these volunteers have the resources they need to complete the delivery successfully,” Jacobs says.
Ellman says, “I became aware of the organization my senior year of high school...When I got onto campus my freshman year, I immediately joined the organization and got involved. As the service and shelter coordinator, I am in charge of creating a pickup/delivery schedule with all of our partners. I'm also responsible for sending reminder messages to volunteers. Our partners are Einstein's Bagels, MarketSquare, the Athletics Training Table, Northside Inter-Community Agency, and the Union Gospel Mission.”
In addition to deliveries, FRN also hosts events with guest speakers related to food waste, food insecurity, and environmentalism. Jacobs says, “Our goal at FRN is to provide members with multiple avenues for action, whether that be as a part of FRN or elsewhere.”
Find out more about TCU’s Food Recovery Network.