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Common Sense Solutions - Starting Now

Can College Students Solve America's Hunger Crisis?

Students Create a National Food Recovery Movement

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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."

Approximately 50 million Americans don't have enough food to eat. In this country, we waste around 700 billion pounds of food each year. The math is not hard. If we donated just 15% of that wasted food each year, we would cut our nation's hunger crisis in half. That's where organizations like the Food Recovery Network come in.

In the fall of 2011 at the University of Maryland, Ben Simon and some of his friends were finishing up a late dinner at a campus dining hall. They noticed that perfectly good food that had not been eaten by the students was going straight into the trash. Simon and his friends decided to step up and inquire about how much left over food was being tossed and whether or not that food could be donated. Thus, the Food Recovery Network was born.

What Simon and his friends found was 100-200 lbs of food being wasted each night. The Food Recovery Network started collecting the dining halls' excess food each night and delivering it to shelters in their community. Not only was all that food going to waste, but 25% of all methane emissions are created by food decomposing in landfills.

Since it's inception FRN has grown from a small group of enthusiastic students to empowering around 1,000 student volunteers on 21 college campuses across the country. With most students spending less than an hour per week in pick up and delivery time, the organization has donated a staggering 166, 354 lbs of food to communities in need. The only cost is incurred by the tin trays they use to collect the food, and that breaks down to less than ten cents per meal. All other time and transportation expenses are volunteered by the students.

The Food Recovery Network is yet more proof to back up Margaret Mead's famous declaration, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world." Simon and FRN show no signs of slowing down. They've signed partnership deals with several nationwide food distributors on over 900 college campuses that will pre-approve FRN programs on those campuses. The organization hopes to have 1,000 chapters across the country in the next five years. Once they've reached the country's campuses they aim to expand to restaurants and farms. In this case, a little bit of compassion, a simple solution, and enthusiasm has sparked a much needed and inspirational nationwide movement!

For more information about the Food Recovery Network visit

-- Brie Sullivan