Sodexo Foundation Awards Food Recovery Network Grant to Fight Hunger
$150,000 in funding supports student-led efforts
to donate nutritious surplus food in local communities
GAITHERSBURG, Md., May 7, 2012 —Sodexo Foundation continues its investment in youth engagement and the fight against hunger with a $150,000 grant to the Food Recovery Network, advancing its work to fight food waste and hunger nationwide.
The Food Recovery Network (FRN) is a consortium of college students fighting hunger and food waste by recovering surplus food from their dining halls and delivering it to local residents in need of a meal. Since its inception at the University of Maryland, College Park in September 2011, FRN has expanded to 21 campuses in 9 states plus Washington, DC, recovering over 140,000 pounds of food.
“A staggering 40 percent of all food grown or raised in the U.S. goes to waste while more than 50 million people in the country are at risk of hunger. Food Recovery Network represents the type of innovative, student-led approach to ending hunger that can affect real change in local communities,” said Robert A. Stern, chair, Sodexo Foundation. “Raising awareness about food waste and mobilizing youth are critical components to ending hunger and Food Recovery Network offers a model that successfully addresses both.”
In June 2012, FRN Founder and Executive Director Ben Simon, a senior at UMD, first encountered Sodexo Foundation when he was recognized as a regional honoree for its Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship. Simon maintained his relationship with the foundation, eventually approaching it that summer to discuss expanding FRN to other campuses. These discussions continue into the present, with hopes of a finalized partnership agreement on the horizon.
While the grant comes from the non-profit charitable arm of Sodexo, one of the largest diversified services providers in the nation (including facilities and food management), the funding will not be limited to the more than 850 colleges and universities served by the company. Of FRN’s 21 campuses, three are contracted with Sodexo: University of California, Davis, The George Washington University, and Providence College.
“Food Recovery Network is extremely excited to be partnering with Sodexo Foundation,” said Simon. “Together, we’re breaking down walls and advancing a very common sense solution – food for people, not for dumpsters.”
During its first 20 months, FRN was run entirely by student volunteerism. The organization is currently led by a co-founding team of students who each contribute 5-20 hours per week guiding other students across the country – launching new chapters at their own colleges. Sodexo Foundation funding will enable FRN to bring on full-time paid staff, provide capacity-building grants to chapters, and further professionalize the organization.
According to the EPA, America’s food waste amounted to 35 million tons in 2010. Ninety-seven percent of that ended up in incinerators or landfills, where rotting food is a top emitter of methane gas, which is 21 times more harmful toward climate change than carbon dioxide. At the same time, 50 million Americans are food insecure, including one in five children.
Simon says he envisions food recovery becoming the new normal, and aims to have 1,000 Food Recovery Network chapters across the United States donating 10 million pounds of food by the end of 2017.
About the Food Recovery Network
The Food Recovery Network (www.foodrecoverynetwork.org) 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. Founded in September of 2011, it has since expanded to reach 21 college campuses and recovered over 130,000 pounds of food that would otherwise have been wasted. During that time, FRN has been covered by MSNBC, ABC, LA Times, and the Washington Post, as well as being recognized by Guidestar as one of the top student-run nonprofits of 2012. Over the next few years, FRN hopes to expand to hundreds of colleges, recovering 10 million pounds of food by 2017 and changing the face of food recovery across the
Sodexo in North America
Sodexo, Inc. (www.sodexoUSA.com), leading Quality of Life services company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers On-site Services in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, and Remote Site segments, as well as Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Foundation (www.SodexoFoundation.org), an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $17 million in grants to end childhood hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at blogs.sodexousa.com.