Student-Led Nonprofit Helps Design County-wide Food Rescue Program

The college students who founded the innovative hunger-fighting nonprofit, Food Recovery Network, now aim to team up with Montgomery County, Maryland to spark their first county-wide chapter. After winning a couple major youth social entrepreneur competitions earlier this year, FRN is making a name as one of the fastest-growing student movements in America.

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Dekel Merin, left, and Executive Director Ben Simon, right, recover a car load of hotdog and hamburger buns that were leftover after a University of Maryland Terps football game.

Starting a program in Montgomery County was too big for us to pass up. If this partnership is successful, we could even develop a model of county-wide food recovery to take across America.

Rockville, MD (PRWEB) September 02, 2012

Food Recovery Network (FRN), a youth-led nonprofit that donates surplus unsellable food to those in need, has been expanding to college campuses across the nation. Now, hungry for its first local government partnership, the students leading the effort have their sights on starting a county-wide chapter in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Last week, Councilmember Valerie Ervin began convening a series of meetings with county stakeholders – representing hotels, restaurants, farmers, nonprofits that serve the hungry, and government agencies – the process of implementing a food rescue program in the county. Ervin approached FRN co-founders Ben Simon and Mia Zavalij after they spoke at a community forum on food insecurity in Maryland.

Although FRN primarily helps students donate food from college campuses, the national leadership team was thrilled at the prospect of supporting a county-wide initiative to reduce food waste and divert it to those in need. Rebecca Kagan, FRN’s Chief Operating Officer and a senior at Brown University, concluded, “Starting a program in Montgomery County was too big for us to pass up. If this partnership is successful, we could even develop a model of county-wide food recovery to take across America.”

Last Monday, students from the University of Maryland chapter of FRN met with Councilmember Ervin along with representatives from Marriot, agencies such as Manna Food Bank, and county policy analysts in the first meeting of the Food Recovery Network Implementation Work Group. With representatives in attendance primarily from the nonprofit sector, the meeting was an opportunity for partnerships between local organizations working toward the same goal.

FRN is now becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is helping students start new chapters at over a dozen other universities. In July, Food Recovery Network took the grand prize in the Banking on Youth Competition held in Washington, DC, landing it $15,000. FRN also won the $5,000 grand prize at UMD’s Kevin Bacon Do Good Challenge this spring.

Food Recovery Network was founded in September 2011 when students at the University of Maryland, College Park noticed that their campus dining halls were throwing away large amounts of perfectly good but unsellable food. This January, Brown University started a chapter, and existing food rescue programs at UC Berkeley and Pomona College joined to create the national nonprofit. The four chapters donated 50,000 meals in their first year together, and are currently coaching students at around 20 other colleges through starting new Food Recovery Network chapters.

The Food Recovery Network unites students at colleges and universities across America to fight food waste and hunger by recovering surplus perishable food from their college campuses and surrounding communities that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to people in need. http://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org

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