Oct 15, 2019
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Student group to fight campus food waste

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Fresno State Sociology students Jonathan Reyes (center) and Benjamin Moua (right) speak with students about their project to help promote awareness during the Food and Security Awareness Week. Photo Roe Borunda

Fresno State’s Food Recovery Network club held its first food recovery campaign during which students had the opportunity to learn about food insecurity at the university and food waste.

“Food insecurity is extremely prevalent in Fresno, especially on the Fresno State campus,” Dr. Janine Nkosi said. “In a survey that was conducted in spring of 2013, it was found that 31 percent of Fresno State students were experiencing food insecurity.

“So roughly one in three Fresno State students struggle with meeting their nutritional needs. Fresno State students are twice as likely to experience food insecurity than the average American.”

Sociology students at Fresno State began their own Food Recovery Network chapter to promote food security on campus and in neighboring communities, Nkosi said.

The chapter at Fresno State has partnered with University Dining Services to recover any surplus food that would be normally thrown away and feed it to the hungry.  Other partners include the food recovery leadership team, Auxiliary Services, and various sociology classes, Nkosi said.

The students are also focused on reducing how much food is wasted to help feed people who are food insecure.

According to the Food Recovery Network, 36 million tons of food is wasted annually despite the fact 49 million Americans experience food insecurity.

This obvious disparity led to the formation of the first Food Recovery Network in 2011, when University of Maryland students noticed large amounts of food were being thrown away that could be recovered to combat food insecurity.

The students mobilized and recovered 150 to 200 pounds of leftover food a day from dining services at the University of Maryland.

According to the Food Recovery Network, 75 percent of college campuses do not have a food recovery program in place, which means up to 22 million meals that could be recovered and given to those in need are lost.

Harry Ratnam, president of the network at Fresno State, said he wants to spread awareness about food disparity on campus.

“We want people to understand the problem by increasing awareness here on campus,” Ratnam said. “We want students to know that there is a way to help the hungry. We want people to get more involved and to help spread awareness to other campuses.

“What we are doing here is really great,” Ratnam said. “It’s the first group of students to start the program here. We hope it lasts many more generations to come.”

Student volunteers will begin to recover food this month and take it to nearby community benefit organizations for distribution.

To get involved with the chapter at Fresno State, contact frnfresnostate@gmail.com

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