Total Pounds Recovered: 10,205 lbs.
Fighting Scots - fighting hunger!
The purpose of the Food Recovery Network at Maryville College is to reduce waste on our campus and in the community, and by extension, fight hunger in the Blount County area. Our goals are to bridge a closer connection between the city of Maryville and the College through social advocacy.
Maryville College’s Food Recovery Network chapter began in February of 2015 with a group of friends who were interested in community service and food waste. One of the friends worked at a local bakery, Foothills Milling Company, and noted that their management was looking for a way to reduce the amount of extra bread that was being thrown away.
Brandon Denney, a 2016 MC graduate and Bonner scholar, saw an opportunity to work with the local food banks by picking up the bakery’s excess bread. Pretty soon, he and a handful of other volunteers began conducting weekly “bread runs” with the bakery and food bank, recovering approximately 20-50 pounds each time.
That summer, Denney attended the Bonner Summer Leadership Institute, where he met a representative for Food Recovery Network, a national nonprofit with a mission to “fight waste and feed people.” This, along with a personal connection to hunger in America, inspired Brandon to start his own chapter at Maryville. In July of 2015, Maryville College became an official Food Recovery Network chapter, and began to partner with on-campus organizations such as Mountain Challenge and Metz Dining Services.
Since then the chapter has recovered over ten thousand pounds of nutritious food that would have otherwise been thrown away to local nonprofits such as: Family Promise, Boys & Girls Club of America, and the MLK Center. to distribute to clients in need and has held multiple outreach events on campus to a raise awareness of food waste and hunger in America!
The current president, Liz Menendez, has been a leader of the chapter since 2016, and has helped expand operations and make the chapter a visible presence on campus through outreach events on campus and for the community.
Whether you’re an experienced volunteer or just passionate about food justice, FRN at Maryville College is an excellent opportunity to make an impact in the Maryville/Alcoa community
Why Food Recovery is important?
No one intentionally wastes food, but American culture, when it comes to food, promotes a very wasteful mindset. Large portions and the overall cheapness of food in comparison to other countries makes it very easy to under value food as a good. The U.S. spends less on food than any other country in comparison to the amount of money spent on all other goods. Most of America does not see food as a scarce commodity, but rather as plentiful right. While 14.5% of Americans live below the poverty line and deal with food insecurity everyday, food waste still remains a very relevant and seldom discussed problem. There is no shaming in throwing away food in modern American society leading to abundant waste. Although many parents encourage joining the “clean plate club” or try and shame children with the age old argument of “there are starving children in (insert chosen country/ continent here), you better finish that,” this becomes lost later in life.
America currently wastes about 30 to 40% of fresh food each year. This has become a huge problem for landfills with food waste being the largest occupant of them. College campuses have been notorious for wasting food with sporting events on campus, or simply overestimating the amount of food students will consume at on campus establishments. This has lead to 22 million pounds of food wasted each year at colleges alone. This was a problem in which Ben Simon the founder of The Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland saw in 2012 when he started the Food Recovery Network.
Food Recovery as a National Organization
The Food Recovery Network was started in 2012 when Ben Simon noticed massive amount of uneaten food being thrown away at sporting events and in the dining halls at his school. He along with Mia Zavalij and Cam Pascual came together in 2011 took action against the dinning hall food they noticed being thrown out each night. That year they, along with other volunteers, came together to recover over 300,000 meals just from the dining hall alone.
In 2012 the Food Recovery efforts of the students of the University of Maryland began to spread to other colleges. In the spring of that year a new chapter was formed at Brown University leading the the start of the largest Food Recovery Network movement in the country.
In 2013 the Food Recovery Network received funding from the Sodexo Foundation to hire a full-time staff and transition into a professional nonprofit, starting the nation sweeping movement of a national nonprofit reducing food waste across college campus country-wide!
The initial purpose of the movement was to start reducing food waste while feeding people, but has grown into something so much more! Now the Food Recovery Network holds an annual Food Recovery Dialogue in which students across the country come for three days to learn more about reducing food waste and raising awareness of the cause. On the third day of the dialogue student leaders participate in Lobby Day by directly speaking with elected officials on the subject of food waste in America and advocating for more policy focused toward fighting waste and feeding people.
Since the initial start of the Food Recovery Network in Maryland, the organization has grown to over 229 chapters and has recovered over 2 billion pounds of food with more colleges joining the movement each year!
Food Recovery At Maryville College
The Food Recovery Network at Maryville College actively strives to educate students and the community on food waste in America as well as get them involved in reducing their own food waste personally. Maryville College’s chapter of the Food Recovery Network aims to do this by hosting events that educate students on food waste, poverty in America, and other issues closely tied to food policies. One such way Maryville College promotes reducing food waste is by participating in the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week by hosting a week full of educational events on hunger and homelessness in Blount County. This campaign takes place nationwide every year during the second full week of November right before Thanksgiving week. Below is a description of the events usually held each fall on Maryville College’s campus hosted by the Food Recovery Network.
Hunger and Homelessness Week Events:
Lunch and Learn about Homelessness in Blount County: This event, usually held on Monday of the week, introduces students to the problem of homelessness and hunger in the local community. With a panel of speakers from local nonprofits, students are given the opportunity to learn more about what is being done to combat the problems in Blount County and are given a chance to ask questions to well trained and experienced professionals in the nonprofit sector.
Where: Pearson's Dining Room
Movie Night: This event, usually held on Tuesday, includes a documentary showing of a recent film about the scale of food waste in America. This gives students an opportunity to learn more about food waste on a national scale as well as learning about how food waste not only affects the environment, but individuals as well.
Car Campout: This event is an interactive opportunity for students to experience what it is like to be homeless in Blount County. Many homeless people in the community do not fit your traditional image of a homeless person. Many people will often times stay in their car at a 24 hour store parking lot so as to have access to running water and bathrooms. This leaves the image of an invisible homeless population. This event allows student to spend the night in their car for a single night in a well lit parking lot much like what many homeless people do every night in Blount County.
These were just some of the events the Food Recovery Network has hosted before. Looking toward future years the club wishes to expand events to encourage more students to get involved in reducing food waste and helping the community.
Liz Menendez ‘18 President
Knoxville native, Liz Menendez, is an Environmental Studies Major and a Political Science and Appalachian Studies double minor here at Maryville College. She is an active member of the MC community heading up both The Food Recovery Network and the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance while remaining an involved Bonner Scholar. Coming to MC, Liz was deeply interested in the natural sciences, but through Maryville’s extensive and robust learning curriculum developed a passion for the policy side of environmentalism as well. This passion for environmental health along with her passion for volunteer work lead to her interest in the Food Recovery Network. Through the Bonner Foundation and the relationships she grew there, she became a regular volunteer for Maryville College’s chapter of the Food Recovery Network, quickly developing a deep passion for fighting food waste and feeding people. “I’ve been involved in nonprofit work since I could remember, but never found a cause I was so passionate about like the Food Recovery Network. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to that I received through running and growing Maryville College’s chapter,” she says. Taking over as President in 2016, Liz helped grow the Food Recovery Network’s presence on campus by organizing the first ever Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week at Maryville College.
Megan Lewis ‘18 Vice President
Megan Lewis, aspiring Organic Chemistry genius, is majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Biology here at Maryville College and is involved in the American Chemical Society and Up ‘Til Dawn as well as being an Academic Mentor, Lab assistant, and SI leader. Growing up In Knoxville, Megan was aware of her immense privilege. Because of this self awareness Megan was involved with Up ‘Til Dawn throughout high school and continued her passion once in college. After branching out and meeting other fellow students who were also passionate about giving back, Megan found the Food Recovery Network through friends. She was inspired by their selflessness, dedication, and passion and decided to join the fight against food waste. “I’ve been very privileged in my life and I feel like it’s the least I can do to give back to those who haven’t had the advantages I’ve had. It was so great to meet other people who were just as passionate about giving back to the community as I was that I couldn’t help but also be passionate about Food Recovery too!” she says. Megan is looking forward to jumping into a new nonprofit organization and expanding her passion for reducing food waste while giving back to the local community. A new addition to the Food Recovery Executive Board, Megan is excited to help with community outreach events as well regular recoveries.
Sierra Merrick ‘18 Food Tracking Specialist
Sierra Merrick is a Biology major and a Statistics minor at Maryville College. She is an active member of Maryville’s STEM community being involved in Tri Beta and the Scots Science Scholar program. With dreams of one day being a Science teacher, Sierra has always enjoyed giving back to her community and those around her. Growing up in Telluride, Colorado, she was always involved in various services activities such as road clean ups, food drives, and working at the local library whenever possible. Since coming to Maryville College, Sierra has widened her passion for service and the environment by getting involved in the Food Recovery Network. “Food is a valuable resource and cafeterias throw so much of it away. Being a picky eater I noticed that I didn't eat much of the food that is served and it seemed that a large population of students were doing the same. So I felt like since I won't eat that food that I might as well help give it to some people who would instead of it going into the trash.” she says. Because of her background in statistics, Sierra found a somewhat unique way of helping with the the cause. She is an Excel extraordinaire, helping keep track of the food recovered each week and communicating Maryville College’s role in the fight against food waste to National as well.
Public Relations and Media Liaison: Open
Recovery Site Coordinator: Open
If you wish to be considered for an Executive Board position please email Liz Menendez at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the responsibilities of the position.
How to get Involved!
The Food Recovery Network is always looking for more help with regular recoveries as well as finding more recovery sites and filling leadership positions.
Get Involved in Recoveries! Food Recovery does bi-weekly recoveries outside the Pearson’s Loading dock each Monday and Friday at 2pm. Simply Show up and help out!
Help Find New Recovery Sites! The Food Recovery Network is always looking to expand and recover as much food as possible! Currently they are only recovering from Metz Dining services and on campus events, but hope to get more local restaurants involved in fighting food waste. If you wish to help fight food waste, but can’t come to regular recoveries, helping find new sites is always appreciated and welcomed.
Help Promote Food Recovery on and off Campus! If you wish to get involved, but have a very limited schedule, the Food Recovery Network is always looking for someone to help with social media and marketing materials. If you have an eye for design or love posting to social media the Food Recovery would love your tech savvy help!