Volunteers try to curb waste

For every rotting apple, unfinished cut of steak and neglected casserole facing the trash can at Boston University, there is a small but committed group of students working to combat food waste.

Student Food Rescue, a Boston University Community Service Center program, picks up excess food from local bakeries and grocery stores and delivers it to homeless shelters and low-income housing facilities as well as elderly and terminally ill people, SFR program manager Vanessa Escobar, a former Daily Free Press photographer, said.

Aesop’s Bagels in the George Sherman Union is the only on-campus location that donates its leftovers to SFR, though Dining Services is “very receptive” to working with SFR, Escobar, a College of Arts and Sciences senior, said.

Escobar said government regulations make it difficult for many eateries to donate uneaten food, though she could not name a specific law.

SFR donates more than 150,000 pounds of food each year, a number that could “double, even triple” if dining halls and other campus eateries joined in, Escobar said.

Escobar said she was optimistic about BU’s potential for helping its community, considering the number of groups already willing to help out.

“BU and the BU community already offer so much to the city of Boston,” she said. “Expanding upon those opportunities and abilities would only be greater.”

“Salvaging food is one of the most incredible gifts that can be given to the greater Boston area,” Escobar said.

BU Hunger Relief is another group that salvages food in Boston, group President Samantha Blieden said.

The group volunteers at local shelters and food pantries, but members have been trying to think of new donation tactics including donating unused dining points to needy Bostonians, Blieden, a CAS junior, said.

“There’s so many homeless people on the street,” she said. “If we took bananas and apples from the dining halls and just gave them food, even that would help.”

Dining Services did not return repeated phone requests for an interview.

Kyle Robisch, a sophomore at the University of Florida, recently found a solution to this problem, making use of his campus’s leftover food with the Gator Community Hunger Outreach ‘ Mediate Program. Gator CHOMP, which Robisch founded, now donates food from on-campus dining locations to a food pantry in Gainesville, Fla.

“It seemed like a simple, easy and effective idea,” Robisch said. “So I got a few friends, worked out the details and met with the dining services sustainability coordinator. They said they had been wanting to donate the food but had no mechanism to do it, so it seemed like a natural fit.”

The group had its first meeting last Wednesday. Gator CHOMP works with the Einstein Bros. Bagels, Starbucks Coffee Company and Quiznos Sub Sandwich Shop near UF, but Robisch said he hopes to expand the program to include more on-campus locations and to collect toiletries and hygiene products.

“The cool part is that someone only needs to do this for 30 minutes every week or two, and they can make a huge difference in someone’s life,” he said.

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