Alex Carr and Kevin Uth each joined Ohio State’s Food Recovery Network (FRN) to make an immediate impact on issues that face their community every day: hunger and food waste. The student organization is advised by AEDE faculty member Dr. Brian Roe and is a chapter of a national nonprofit organization that unites students at colleges and universities to tackle these pressing issues. Ohio State’s organization does that every day, collecting excess food from Ohio State’s dining halls — such as prepackaged meals, sandwiches, salads and fruit cups — and delivering it to food pantries and shelters around Columbus. COVID-19 put a lot of responsibility on their volunteers to keep the mission going during a critical time.
"A lot of people are experiencing even higher levels of food insecurity and hunger than ever before,” said Carr, FRN president, and senior mechanical engineering major. "We've worked smarter and harder and even expanded our reach and aspirations."
Membership has more than doubled and FRN has found creative ways to keep food that will go stale, out of landfills. It’s either composted on campus or used in creative food upcycling products. They partnered with Seventh Son Brewery in Columbus to make a bagel beer out of excess bagels. Similarly, they’re currently working with another student organization, Know Food Waste, the Food Science and Technology Department, and Ohio State’s Dining Services to create bagel chips. By partnering with other sustainability organizations around campus, FRN can develop partnerships with other clubs and sustainability efforts. The group just applied for a grant through OSU's Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) Leverage Grants Program that would allow them to upgrade and expand their technology platform to other chapters around the region.
“There’s no limit to what we can do,” said Uth, FRN's vice president, and junior mechanical engineering major. "All it takes is the effort and involvement to increase the scale of what’s happening. We’re looking at more ways to expand and feed more people — and that excites me because there are so many more who need help.”
Read more about the Food Recovery Network.