SUNY students recover, donate surplus dining hall food to shelters

Food Recovery Hierarchy IMG_8668Food for thought:

SUNY-ESF students use Food Recovery Network, collect dining hall extras & deliver to shelters: “Composting is good but feeding people is better,” said organizer Katja Fiertz.

From the story:

The national Food Recovery Network ( was founded in 2011 by Ben Simon. The University of Maryland senior wanted to help eliminate the amount of food that was thrown away at his college. Since then, his idea has grown to have over 110 chapters at colleges and universities in 31 states that collect food from dining halls and distribute it to people who need it.

The SUNY students went on its first run last October. It has since recovered more than 3,500 pounds of food, and it has grown to have 53 active volunteers.

“We talk a lot about all the food waste, like what’s on your plate at the end of the night, but not much about what’s left that still can be used,” Zach Spangler said. “Doing this has really shown me that we can use a lot of it still.”

For now, the three founders are in the process of training new officers to take over the chapter so it can continue after they graduate.

A federal law – the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act – protects the students from any liability as long as they donate the food in good faith. Read the story here.

More on food waste:

  • In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions;
  • In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.

From an editorial in The New York Times:

The food discarded by consumers and retailers in just the most developed nations would be more than enough to sustain all the world’s 870 million hungry people if effective distribution methods were available.