By Megan Palumbo & Claire Crittendon – Co-editor-in-Chief & 1851 Staff
Part of living on campus means relying on the dining services to cook up something delicious three meals a day. After the breakfast, lunch and dinner rush in the dining hall, you may head to class or go back to your dorm feeling stuffed, but have you ever thought about what happens to the leftover food?
Lasell Dining Services and Student Alumni Association (SAA) partnered two years ago to start a chapter for the Food Recovery Network (FRN). According to their official website, FRN is the largest student movement fighting food waste and hunger in America. Lasell is one of 230 chapters across the country, recovering food and donating it to places in need. To date, Lasell has donated over 300 pounds of food that otherwise would have gone to waste.
The idea to start a chapter came about during Family, Friends and Alumni weekend in 2017. The Alumni office was hosting their annual beer and chili festival, and towards the end the group had a lot of leftover chili. Not knowing what to do with the leftovers, Director of Dining Services Michael Quakenbush suggested donating it somewhere, thus informing SAA members about the FRN.
Prior to joining Lasell’s dining services, Quackenbush worked at Worchester Polytechnic Institute ( WPI) where students ran an FRN chapter. “When we began operations at Lasell College, we wanted to embed ourselves with the community and give back as part of new operations strategy,” he wrote in an email. “We were very pleased that this initiative was established very quickly.”
With the help of Dining Services, Vice President of the Philanthropy Committee Hailee Walsh started Lasell’s FRN chapter through SAA. “Lusine from Chartwells was extremely excited about creating a Food Recovery Network Chapter at Lasell, so I partnered with her to find a way to give back to the community,” said Walsh.
Every Thursday, members from SAA sign up to collect two large trays of food from the dining hall and deliver it to a local organization. The first year they delivered to the Hurley House, a men’s halfway house in Waltham, and this year they deliver food to the Boys and Girls Club in Newton.
The food ranges from burgers and hot dogs to grilled chicken, rice and vegetables. Junior & SAA President Katie Jones explained that SAA donates food that was only made within the last 48 hours upon pick up, and Quackenbush echoed, “This is food that was prepared for a meal service that never went out on the service line.”
Senior & Chairman of SAA Evan Roy said, “We drop it on Thursdays which is [the Boys and Girls Club’s] busiest day. They have a lot of kids coming in and out, so to my knowledge, it’s gone by that night.”
“In the future we’d like to make more drop offs during the week, because with the 48 hours’ worth of food, so much other food is still going to waste,” Jones said. SAA board members have also been talking about pairing up with another student organization group as a way to get more students involved with the FRN.
The core members of SAA have seen the FRN chapter evolve since starting it in 2017. Every member involved enjoys participating because of how rewarding the project is. Jones said, “It’s kind of eye opening, we never think about where the food goes after we’re not eating it…it’s so rewarding just knowing it’s going somewhere good.”
“As college students we have a responsibility to be aware of different things we can do to help our communities and the people surrounding us,” said junior and SAA member Taylor O’Neill. “Even though it may seem like we’re just college students and we don’t have a lot of resources, we actually do, and we don’t even realize they’re all around us.”
“It’s just doing a very basic, good deed,” Roy said. “When I first reached out to Boys and Girls club with the idea of doing it with them this year, they were really excited about it. I mean, it’s free food, how can you not be?”
Chartwells and the SAA have been work- ing hand in hand with this project since the be- ginning. According to Roy, Chartwells has been helpful in making this project run smoothly every week. “Working with Chartwells has been pretty good, knock on wood, no hiccups yet,” said Roy. “They’ve been able to do a great job for us. It’s been smooth sailing from day one.”
With the help of SAA, Chartwells is able to give back to the community, but they’re also taking preventative measures against food waste within Valentine Dining Hall. Quackenbush wrote, “We have a “Waste Not” program that we use in our kitchens to measure the amount of waste we may have and use that data entry going forward.” They have a program for Earth Day called the Clean Plate program.
“This program educates students to only take the amount of food they can eat so that they end up with a ‘clean plate’ and don’t waste food,” he said.
*Photo above courtesy of Katie Jones.
SAA Chairmen Evan Roy (R) delivering trays of leftover food to a worker (L) from the Boys and Girls Club in Newton.