For Zero hunger, young people are the future

A special post for International Youth Day from the students at ZHC participant Food Recovery Network.

frec-logoWhen Food Recovery Network signed on as an official participant in the Zero Hunger Challenge, we knew from the start that our missions aligned fully and readily. It made complete sense to us that yes, we should be part of the global initiative to end hunger in our lifetimes. Why?

As a youth-led, student-focused organization, Food Recovery Network is tackling the joint issues of food waste and food insecurity. We’re channeling our generation’s idealism, pragmatically:  building a community of student leaders and working together to solve not just the problems of tomorrow, but the problems of right now. Forty percent of all food in America goes to waste, while one in six Americans does not know where his or her next meal will come from. By the time today’s 20-year-old college students are in their mid-fifties, there will be nine billion people in the world. If we’re going to have a world without hunger, something is going to have to change. Why not start making that change now?

College campuses across the country are full of concerned young people who want to make the world a better place, and it often just takes one or two committed students to start the fight against food waste and hunger to get the entire campus community to take action. Despite the commonly humble beginnings, as FRN chapters gain traction, they easily grow from just a handful of core leaders to extensive volunteer networks made up of students, community volunteers, professors and even local elected officials in a matter of months.

On International Youth Day, Food Recovery Network and Zero Hunger Challenge are taking time to highlight the ways and reasons that young people are getting involved and working to end hunger in our lifetimes.

Carleton College students work to fill empty containers with leftovers. Photo: Molly Larsen

Carleton College students work to fill empty containers with leftovers. Photo: Molly Larsen

Connecting the dots and closing the loop:  Young people are not only fighting food waste with FRN, but also issues such as food inequality, hunger, industrial farming, and environmental issues. At Carleton College for instance, Food Recovery Network makes sense out of the pounds of healthy, fresh, leftover food, the enthusiastic and passionate students and community members, and the large incidence of food insecurity in Rice County, MN.

Small actions add up:  With Food Recovery Network, student leaders at 96 campuses across the country have collectively diverted over 425,000 pounds of food from the landfill to hunger-fighting agencies in their communities over the past three years. With an “every pound counts” mentality, small schools can have just as much of an impact on their community as large schools; together, FRN chapters have recovered enough food to provide 310 Americans three meals a day for an entire year.

Volunteering for community:  Fighting hunger and food waste is something everyone can get behind, and typical food recoveries can involve athletes, environmentalists, students in sororities and fraternities and beyond. Over 1,500 volunteers participated in food recoveries with FRN last school year, dedicating 40,000 hours to diverting over 200,000 pounds of food from the waste stream while spending time with new people as part of something so big and with such a positive impact.

Friar Food RescueYoung people are the future, right now:  Young people are a vital force in the fight to end hunger and food waste because they are the future; their actions will shape the world for many years to come. ​Upon graduation, FRN student leaders will continue to be advocates for service and for justice. Says Nikki Phillips of Providence College’s Friar Food Rescue, “our generation strives to make the world a little better in any way we can control, and fighting food waste is one of those ways.” Adds Sarah Diamond of FRN at Lawrence University, “It is also crucial that those with far more than they need give back to those with far less than they need.”

College students in the United States are invited to fight food waste and hunger with FRN by applying to start a chapter here. Learn more about Food Recovery Network and our commitment to ZHC’s principle of zero food waste. Like FRN on Facebook and follow @FoodRecovery on Twitter and Instagram.

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Thanks to contributing bloggers Sara Gassman (FRN National), Nikki Phillips (Friar Food Rescue at Providence College), Hannah Spiegelman (FRN at Goucher College), Shira Kaufman (FRN at Carleton College) and Sarah Diamond (FRN at Lawrence University).