Photo by James Souder, Food Recovery Network

Food Recovery Network’s Millennial Achievers Forgive You

Happy vague-anxiety season! We mean, of course, the almost-springtime of tax-day dread, inter-winter-weather-bout doubt, and for millennials, their parents, and anyone else who knows a FAFSA from a falafel, college-application fixation.

Because some of KaTom’s best friends are young people and higher-education dining concessions, we might have guessed that college students in America generate roughly their body weight in food waste each year, contributing to an annual dumpsterlode of more than 20 million pounds of food tossed out on campuses.

But although our line of work puts us under the very sneezeguard of the college foodservice world, we tend to think in shiny terms, about induction rethermalizers, alluring action stations, hipster food trucks and the like. These are the mainstays of today’s thoughtfully designed, retail-feeling yet efficient campus dining—an experience that makes Baby Boomer parents roll their eyes and reminisce about hairnets.

So, yeah, we kind of figured all you kids were spoiled.

Turns out that if you want to know about food waste at higher-ed campuses in America, and especially if you’d like to do something about feeding the hungry in your community, the go-to group is a bunch of undergrads at your local college, founded around 2011 by a core group that looks kind of like the cast of Superbad.

The Food Recovery Network gives food that would otherwise go to waste to people who need it. I know, I know: What are these kids thinking?

What they’re doing is recovering food, some 700,000 pounds of it by this point, working through chapters they’ve set up in more than 100 colleges throughout the country and partnerships with the very same huge foodservice contractors that used to let all that good food from the dining hall go to waste. Various projects and initiatives now surround the Food Recovery Network’s core mission. For example, let’s say your food business could benefit from raising its profile as good corporate citizens. You might want to get Food Recovery-verified, in that case.

Brilliant. And just so … nice. You can catch them all, as it were, along with their public-service running buddies Campus Kitchens and Doug Rausch, who ran Trader Joe’s for 14 years, at the second annual Food Waste & Hunger Summit, a public gathering held at the University of Georgia in Athens from April 18-19, 2015—as well as in the curated, filtered, effortlessly brand-managed food-activist social entrepreneurial online niche community of your choice.


Elaine Evans
Elaine Evans Elaine Evans is thrilled to blog for KaTom, where her work in restaurants, bars, catering, and artisanal food has caught up at last with her career in journalism and public relations writing. Connect with Elaine Evans on Google+