Bellarmine’s University Dining Hall, more commonly known as UDH, is one of the busiest places on campus for students, faculty, and visitors.  Every day, fresh food is prepared to feed many potential customers for a buffet-style lunch and dinner.

One question that many do not think about is, “Where does all the extra food go?”

At other college dining halls, the extra food goes straight into the dumpster.  However, at Bellarmine, thanks to the national non-profit organization, Food Recovery Network, leftover food gets donated to either Wayside Christian Mission or Volunteers of America.

Food Recovery Network, the national organization, was created by students from the University of Maryland in 2011.  Since then the organization has grown to almost 200 chapters nationwide.  In all, 1.6 million pounds of food have been saved from going to waste. Food Recovery reports that students on college campuses waste around 160,000 pounds of edible food per year.

Sodexo, which is the services and facility management group that runs UDH and other food services on campus, collaborated with the Brown Leadership Community and Food Recovery Network to bring this service to Bellarmine, creating Bellarmine Food Recovery Network.

Bellarmine’s chapter is coming close to hitting a huge milestone. The group is nearing in on donating 10,000 pounds of food since they started serving the community in the fall semester of 2014. It is at 9,068.65 pounds, and BFRN plans on eclipsing the 10,000-pound mark during this semester.

The program is not just about saving food that would otherwise go to waste.  It is also establishes a connection with the members of the community who have been helped by the organization. Bellarmine’s co-founder and co-director, Austin Adam said: “We have a positive influence in (clients’) lives. All of our clients are friendly.”

“Bellarmine has a great relationship with the community. One of the stereotypes is that we do care, students go the extra mile off campus everyday” Adam said.

Bellarmine Food Recovery Network aims to help fix food insecurity issues in the community as well.  One-sixth of Americans experience food insecurity, which means that a person or family does not regularly have easy access to quality food.

Everett Ohland is a class of 2016 alumnus and volunteer for Food Recovery. Ohland has been a member of the group since the founding of the chapter.

“It feels good to go volunteer and talk with the people. It feels nice to have a relationship,” Ohland said. “We decided to raise awareness to what happens to food and wasteful food.”

Wayside Christian Mission and Volunteers of America are services that help homeless and less fortunate individuals return to being an active member of society.  Volunteers of America also serve to veterans as well as individual families.

Steve Santo, the general manager of Sodexo at Bellarmine and a contributor to the Food Recovery program, said serving others is the greatest joy he gets from Food Recovery Network.

“It isn’t important to me, it is important to others, it will potentially go to help people who need it,” Santo said. “We can grow (the network) to more locations like hotels, restaurants, and having strong leadership.”

Food Recovery is growing not only at Bellarmine, but around the country as well.

So the next time food is seen sitting out and not being eaten, students can have peace of mind knowing that almost 10,000 pounds of food have benefited people who may desperately need it.

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