Student group coordinates food program

The Shippensburg University chapter of the Food Recovery Network (FRN) has partnered with Chartwells dining services on campus to donate leftover food from dining halls to community members in need. 

According to its website, the organization "unites students at colleges and universities to fight food waste and hunger by recovering surplus perishable food from their campuses and surrounding communities that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to people in need."

Shippensburg's chapter was piloted by students in "Practice with Organizations and Communities," a required course for all social work majors. The students, led by senior Christina Qawasmy, started the chapter for an assignment and donated their first batch of recovered food last month to the Shippensburg First Church of God on East King Street.

Each Friday, the students pick up leftover food from Reisner Dining Hall and deliver it to the church, which offers a free community meal on Friday evenings. Food items include rice, pasta, rolls, meats, vegetables and baked goods.

"It is a truly wonderful feeling to see the appreciation on the faces of the Shippensburg community members my group and I are helping each and every recovery," said Qawasmy. "In addition, the organization benefits both the community and the university by helping to eliminate some of the waste on-campus and to support sustainability efforts."

Nick Iula, director of campus dining services, said Reisner Hall discards approximately 100 pounds of food per meal-period and estimates the university discards at least twice that amount campus-wide. "This program is a win-win because we are able to save healthy, nutritious food from being thrown away and allow local community members and families to enjoy a tasty wholesome meal," said Iula.

Students have had four recoveries and donated more than 200 pounds of food to date.

FRN was started in 2011 at the University of Maryland, and as of February had programs at 53 colleges in 20 states and recovered more than 250,000 pounds of food.