Food rescue enlists help

Student group “Food Rescue” has always been determined to salvage food waste at Allegheny and donate it to local area organizations, but this week they are taking their initiative to a new level by attempting to recruit the help of nearby colleges.

In the March 4 edition of The Campus, Mirno Pasquali covered the green initiatives of Allegheny’s groups “Community Kitchen” and “Food Rescue” in his article “Students look to lower food waste.” In the article, students involved in Community Kitchen discussed their efforts to collect leftovers from McKinley’s and Brooks that are prepared but never get to be served.  The leftovers are boxed up and brought downtown to  places in need. Brett Fuchs, ’10, heads up Community Kitchen and emphasized how cooperative the Parkhurst employees and administration have been in getting the group off the ground.

In contrast, Food Rescue specifically gathers the leftovers from catering events and takes them to organizations like Women’s Services, the Crawford County Mental Health Awareness Program (CHAPS), and homeless shelters in Meadville.

“What we’re doing is taking food, putting it in the fridges of the Religious Life house, and volunteers bring the food downtown,” said Matt Neckelmann, ’10.

Student volunteer Briana English, ’13, explained that the kind of food they are able to collect varies.

“It depends on the event, sometimes we are able to bring them main courses but sometimes it’s just wraps and potato chips,” English said.

Food Rescue founder Sandra Weyman, ’09, stated in Pasquali’s article that she started the organization because all the food Allegheny was throwing away “struck her a horrible waste.”  Wayman would hang around after food events with containers in her bag, grab anything that was left over and donate it to the Women’s Shelter downtown.

Evan Woods, ’12, says their presentation at Mercyhurst is essentially the end result of a project for Professor Bowden’s ENVSC 110 class. 

“Originally, the group–Matt, Briana, and I–knew very little about the project here on campus, so we were planning on collaborating with those in charge to see if we couldn’t raise awareness and get more people involved; leftover and subsequently thrown-out food is a waste on so many levels: resources, money, and energy,” Woods said in an e-mail. “This seems unconscionable, especially considering there are so many people who can benefit from leftover food.”

Neckelmann and Woods, along with Kat Fabian, ’10, will be visiting nearby colleges today and tomorrow in an attempt to persuade them to start the same program on their campuses.

“We’re going to Mercyhurst on Friday and we’re going to have lunch with a professor from their Environmental Science department, someone from their campus ministry, and someone from their food services,” Neckelmann said.

The meetings won’t end with Mercyhurst.

“We also contacted people at Gannon and they were very enthusiastic, and we contacted people at Grove City, who were also very excited although they don’t have an environmental department or club,” Neckelmann said. “There’s just a lot of enthusiasm on general for the program.”

There are several liability issues that Food Rescue runs into with this project, according to Neckelmann. Pasquali’s article explained the federal law called the Good Samaritan Law, which “prohibits food that has been out on the line from being donated because of concerns regarding contamination.”

According to English, Food Rescue “has been able to bypass this rule so far.”

Student response to the initiative has been largely positive.

“I think it’s a great way for the college to get involved in helping the community,” said Mallory Scott, ’11.

“It’s wonderful that food isn’t being thrown away and is being given to people who need it,” said Maggie Rich, ’11.

The need for food donations is prevalent in Meadville.

“They could definitely use the food,” Neckelmann said. “If they’re accepting it, then they need it; there’s no doubt that there’s a demand for food.”

Woods wants to make Food Rescue a permanent part of Allegheny.  

“We reimagined the project for ENVSC 110 as an opportunity to get involved with food rescue here and then share our experiences with nearby colleges so that they might start similar programs,” he said. “We plan on challenging Mercyhurst–one school that has responded quite favorably–to share the program with another school every year.”

To volunteer or help out with Food Rescue, contact Matt Neckelmann at [email protected] or Emma Dosch at [email protected]