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The Lycoming College chapter of Food Recovery Network (FRN) has been fighting food waste and hunger daily since its inception in January 2014. The program’s main goals are to reduce the amount of waste that goes into our landfill, and to feed people in need within the Williamsport community. Last year alone, Lycoming’s FRN recovered 4,510.2 pounds of food.
Students involved in FRN visit the College’s dining hall at the end of every day to package, weigh, and deliver uneaten food to its partner agency, the American Rescue Workers (ARW) in Williamsport. Thousands of pounds of food that would have previously gone to waste are now being diverted to the shelter to provide meals to those in need.
“American Rescue Workers is incredibly grateful for the tens of thousands of pounds of food that Lycoming College students have brought to our kitchen,” said Valerie Fessler, community engagement and development officer for ARW. “Each pound of food served makes a difference in the lives of those who are food insecure by providing them with delicious, high-quality food, and greatly impacts our budget by cutting food costs.”
The ARW also benefits from Lycoming’s FRN because the food donated to the shelters comes already prepared. “American Rescue Workers has one full time kitchen staff member serving over 76,000 meals per year with the help of shelter residents and volunteers, so when food comes to him already prepared it is a blessing and gives him time to start planning and prepping the next meal,” explained Fessler. “Shelter residents appreciate the food donated by Lycoming College because it is high quality and it provides some variation in the weekly menu, giving them food options they may not typically have.”
Lycoming’s FRN was an initiative of the College’s Sustainability Committee, which is comprised of students, faculty, and administrators interested in promoting environmental sustainability initiatives on campus. The Sustainability Committee was named the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC) Campus Sustainability Champion at the annual PERC conference in 2014 and was given the Outstanding Community Service Program Award by Lycoming College at the annual Leadership & Service Awards Banquet later that same year. Lycoming’s FRN was also integral in the Sustainability Committee receiving the PERC and Outstanding Community Service awards in 2018. FRN students attended the Food Waste and Hunger Summit in 2014 and 2015, and hosted the first Eastern Regional Food Recovery Network Summit in 2015.
“Since January 2014, Lycoming College has been able to recover 38,507.4 pounds of food and donate it to the American Rescue Workers,” stated Braeden Gonzales ’20 of Hanover, Pa., a chemistry major and the Lycoming FRN project coordinator. “This number will continue to grow as we begin recoveries for the year. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this project and see how this year goes.”