In September 2011, a small group of College Park (CP) students noticed food-related issues that affected their campus and the D.C. area. Leftover food from CP dining halls was being sent to landfills, yet 1 of every 8 people in the D.C. area faced hunger issues. The students formed the Food Recovery Network (FRN) to bridge the gap.
Towson University recently joined the FRN effort. Heather Broadhead, TU student and president of FRN@TU, and Mary Fortier, Manager of Student Financial Services and advisor of FRN@TU, stumbled upon the network last spring term and began creating an FRN chapter at TU.
The process wasn’t easy. They needed to get sanctioned by the SGA as an official university group, plus they had to get trained on how to meet FRN’s rigorous food quality standards. For example, FRN members have to keep hot food at 135 degrees or higher during the delivery process. If the food dips below this temperature, it can’t be used, and their donation trip is for naught.
After learning the rules, regulations and guidelines, Heather worked with Mary, Chartwells’ District Manager Roy Cubbler and other FRN@TU members to develop a system for donations. Cubbler gave them permission to enter dining halls after hours, where they gather leftover foods that meet FRN standards and put them into trays. The members then load up the trays in their cars and transport them to Project Plase, an organization dedicated to housing and supporting Baltimore’s homeless population. Project Plase takes the donations and puts them directly in the hands of the hungry.
FRN@TU became officially recognized by SGA this fall, and they made their first donation–a whopping 71 lbs of food, which feeds more than 50 people!–just last week. Heather said the first donation made all the work worth it.
“I’ve worked with homeless people for a while now and have seen what they go through,” Heather said. “I enjoy helping them.”
In the coming months, Mary and Heather plan to continue their donations and also expand FRN@TU. They hope to build a food pantry on-campus just for students who need help procuring food, and they plan to partner with organizations outside TU to recover additional food.
By Tyler New; photos courtesy of FRN@TU