Food Recovery Network aims to educate students on food recovery and food waste on-campus

Food Recovery Network helps to reduce food waste in the university dining services by donating to community shelters.


Image from Food Recovery Network FAU Owl Central Database

Darlene Antoine, Features Editor

From a plethora of cardboard boxes filled with bananas to packages filled to the brim with canned soups, the Food Recovery Network (FRN) works to fight food waste on-campus.

FRN is a national nonprofit organization that allows students at colleges and universities to fight food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste from their campus dining halls and donating it to those in need. The main mission of the organization is to combat the challenges of hunger by recovering a surplus of food to feed everyone who is hungry in the U.S.

The FRN of FAU was founded in April 2018 and has helped to reduce food waste within FAU’s dining services, mainly the Atlantic Dining Hall. The club members work together to not only collect food but also help to distribute it to community shelters such as Boca’s Helping Hands. The purpose of this club is to educate the public about food waste and get college students involved in the community to help those in need.

FRN President Carlos Salazar, Vice President Mattie Reaves, and former member Savannah Phillips have faced a lot of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to the restrictions for in-person meetings, and a lack of members willing to participate in food runs. However, the club remains active by hosting webinars with the national team. These webinars are focused on topics of hunger, racial equity, the impact of COVID-19 in our communities, and the importance of advocacy work.

“I choose to be a part of the Food Recovery Network because I want to contribute to the community and help those that are less fortunate than others. To know that I can make a positive impact on somebody’s life by donating food is what drives me to participate in the club,” Salazar said.

What is food waste?

The Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies (FUSIONS) reports that the term food waste refers to “food appropriate for human consumption being discarded, whether or not after it is kept beyond its expiry date or left to spoil. Often this is because food has spoiled but it can be for other reasons such as oversupply due to markets, or individual consumer shopping/eating habits.”

What is food recovery?

FRN explains that Food Recovery “is rescuing surplus food that would otherwise be wasted and giving it to hunger-fighting partner agencies.”

FRN of FAU focuses on giving back to the community and when asked what was the most valuable part of the experience, Phillips explained that she discovered the need for food accessibility was a pressing issue across the entire community from families to even students.

“When I was president of this club, my eyes were opened to the massive need in the Boca Raton area. Not only were there couples and families, but also college students from FAU in need of the free food services. I was shocked when I found out that there were students from my university attending some of the food drives we helped out with on Saturday mornings,” Phillips said.

Reaves shared the same sentiment as Phillips as he agreed that being a member of the FRN was moving and crucial work to both students and the communities in need of their services.

“What was most inspiring for me was when I made my first drop-off and there was a kitchen full of people making pans of food in full gear at 8 a.m. There was so much food and teamwork and communication [that] it made me grateful for what I have and glad to be able to help,” Reaves said.

Phillips explained that one of the biggest joys she had while being a part of FRN was when she was able to see how grateful people were during the weekend food drives.

“Not only did we assist in the Saturday drives, but we were able to help provide some of the food they used from the Atlantic Dining Hall. Seeing these people smile and some cry over just two bags of groceries was something I will never forget,” Phillips said.

For more information on how to join FRN, students can send an email to [email protected]

Darlene Antoine is the Features Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].