Posted: December 6, 2016 at 12:25 am

By Morgan Mularski, Andrew Caridi and Reghan Bailey

Around 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. When the University of Maryland, College Park’s dining hall was throwing away large amounts of good food, Ben Simon, Mia Zavalij and Cam Pascual decided something needed to be done.

In September 2011 Food Recovery Network (FRN) was created as a student group at the University of Maryland. Today FRN is the largest student movement against food waste and overall they have saved more than 1.2 million meals that were later donated to those in need.

In 1996, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was created to encourage food donation to nonprofit organizations. The law gives liability preservation to food donors who have not acted with negligence or intentional misconduct. This act makes the Food Recovery Network movement possible.

During the spring semester of 2012, the second chapter of FRN was founded at Brown University. Today the Food Recovery Network has 197 chapters in 44 states.

Food Recovery Network Chaptersscreen-shot-2016-11-15-at-11-45-51-pm

(Source Courtesy of the FRN Website)

Click here to view the full interactive map

Brandon Denney, program fellow of FRN, says that within just five years, the movement has grown at an incredible rate and they are adding new chapters every month.

“I think the reason the FRN template works so well is for two reasons: one, students are inspired by our mission to ‘Fight Waste and Feed People,'” Denney said. “I think this motivates people to make a change in their community. Food insecurity is at the crossroads of environmental sustainability, biology, economic responsibility, and social justice. No matter where your academic interests lie, they can most certainly be applied to food insecurity.

The Sodexo Foundation, a not-for-profit organization to ensure that every child in the United States grows up with access to healthy food that leads it to a better life, found funding for the Food Recovery Network in May 2013 that gave the organization the ability to hire a full-time staff and convert into a nonprofit organization.

The 2016-year was a major success for the Food Recovery Network where they added 65 new chapters and 8 new states to their organization and recovered 40 percent more food than they did in the previous year. The FRN worked with more than 340 college dining halls and food industry businesses where they were able to save food and help them figure out what has to be done in order to not use as much food.

The Food Recovery Network was featured in The Huffington Post and also took part in a panel at the Food Tank Summit, Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic’s Reduce and Recover Conference. During April 2nd to the 4th the FRN held their first signature event called National Food Recovery Dialogue to celebrate the fifth year of Food Recovery Network. All together the Food Recovery Network donated to more than 260 hunger-fighting community partners so far in 2016.