UNC’s Food Recovery Network (FRN), a student-run food waste prevention club, will continue to run its services in one way or another, despite having a shrinking pool of volunteers.
The Food Recovery Network is a national organization geared toward teaming up with college students to fight waste and feed hungry people. They have over 230 chapters across the country, including one at UNC.
Since its founding in 2014, the UNC chapter has paired with Panera Bread, Beach Café and Café McColl to save food that would have otherwise been thrown away and donate it to homeless shelters. Each week, volunteers go on three runs – one to each restaurant – to pick up food and deliver it to people in need.
In the past year alone, the club has donated 545 pounds of food.
The Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, a Chapel Hill-Carrboro nonprofit, receives donations from FRN through HomeStart and Community Kitchen.
“HomeStart is a shelter for women and families. There is also the Community House for men, and they are the only two homeless shelters in Orange County,” said Jackie Jenks, the executive director at IFC. “Community Kitchen is located on Rosemary and it provides free meals daily to anyone who is hungry.”
Since FRN is run solely by students, the club often struggles over the summer.
“Most of the activity happens over the school year, and then over the summer it reduces quite a bit, just because student volunteers aren’t on campus,” said Victoria McFarlane, FRN’s Director of Internal Affairs and Communications.
McFarlane hopes students taking summer classes at UNC, like herself, will help out with FRN while they're on campus.
"Because all the restaurants that we partner with outside of campus are going to continue running, I think it would be great if we had enough people to keep it going over the summer," McFarlane said.
Despite FRN’s shrinking volunteer pool due to students' summer plans, David Zeitouni, the club’s president, said they will keep donating as much as they can.
“I was here last summer, and I was able to do runs when possible,” Zeitouni said. “Most students are gone, but whichever runs we can keep up, we will. I believe it will stay running over the summer, because I’ll be here, and then if any other volunteers are as well and express interest, then they can help.”
McFarlane said she believes the organization's purpose not only helps community members but is also beneficial for the environment.
“Just seeing how grateful the women in the shelters are for what we are doing, I would say has a huge impact,” she said.
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