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CCU Atheneum: From left, Jason Tomlinson (CCU alumnus), Jada Bynum (CCU senior Wall Fellows Class of 2016), Nicholas DiDuro (CCU Senior  Wall Fellows Class of 2016), Beatris Petelkova (CCU Junior Wall Fellows Class of 2017) and Jonah Skiles (CCU Junior Wall Fellows Class of 2017).
From left, Jason Tomlinson (CCU alumnus), Jada Bynum (CCU senior Wall Fellows Class of 2016), Nicholas DiDuro (CCU Senior Wall Fellows Class of 2016), Beatris Petelkova (CCU Junior Wall Fellows Class of 2017) and Jonah Skiles (CCU Junior Wall Fellows Class of 2017).

Wall Fellows bring Food Recovery Network to campus

by Rebecca Cwalina
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The Wall Fellows have started a Food Recovery Network chapter at Coastal Carolina University as part of their “give back” project.

Food Recovery Network is a collegiate organization that works to feed those in need by donating uneaten food from campus dining halls and other campus functions and events. Founded in 2011 by University of Maryland students Ben Simon, Mia Zavalij and Cam Pascual, the organization has more than 150 chapters nationwide and by 2015 had recovered 1 million pounds of food. According to statistics provided by the organization, more than 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States goes uneaten, and 25 percent of the food we bring home gets thrown away, which equates to more than 20 pounds of food wasted per person every month.

The Wall Fellows decided to focus on helping the hungry in the community during the fall semester, after Beatris Petelkova, a junior accounting major, happened across the Food Recovery Network’s website while researching the subject. Other Fellows working on the project include Jonah Skiles, Jada Bynum and Laura Thareau.

In October 2015, the Food Recovery Network assigned the group a mentor, Leyla Erkan, who called weekly to advise the Fellows about how to approach the school and students in order to procure unused food. In order to establish a functioning chapter, the Fellows had to go through Aramark, the University’s food service provider, to collect the food and form guidelines and procedures. Aramark personnel were excited about the idea from the beginning, according to Petelkova.

“We are excited to begin our partnership with the Food Recovery Network,” said Jeffrey Stone, resident district manager for food services. “We will be able to use this avenue as an alternative when we have food surplus in our locations on campus and in doing so, we are able to help people of need in our local community.”

Aramark is responsible for packaging the unused food from campus dining venues so that everything is done in the most sanitary way possible. Unused food refers to food that was prepared but not sold and would otherwise be thrown away. It is then the Food Recovery Network’s job to pick up the food and take it to donation points. The chapter members are hoping to pick up food from campus every Friday, starting with Chauncey’s Choice, one of the dining halls on campus, until the chapter is fully functioning and has more members. With a larger crew, they will be able to make recoveries at more campus dining halls every week.

CCU's Food Recovery Network had its first recovery on Friday, April 1, at Chauncey's Choice. They chose to donate the unused campus food to New Directions, which has four shelters in the Horry County area. The newest shelter is specifically for families and 75 percent of its clients are children. The family shelter will be Food Recovery Network’s permanent donation site.

“I’ve always wanted to give back to the community,” said Petelkova. “With so many who go hungry and so many homeless people in our area, it’s a shame that so much food goes to waste here. If we have the opportunity and ability to give food to someone who is hungry, I feel like it is our responsibility to do so.”

Petelkova believes the Food Recovery Network will make a great difference in the community. New Directions for Families relies heavily on the donations of others, so much so that when a donator cancels or does not show up, volunteers will sometimes buy food to help. The network feeds about 50 people monthly or 12 to 15 families and has served over 53,000 meals in 2015.

“New Directions' families were so excited to receive their first donation from the Food Recovery Network chapter at CCU,” said Kathy Jenkins, executive director of New Directions. “This team of students has worked very hard to launch the chapter, and New Directions is thrilled to be partnering with them. They will make a real difference for the men, women and children served at New Directions for Families. We look forward to working with them and doing all that we can, together, to better serve our families.”

Wall Fellows director Gina Cummings coordinates all the projects that the Fellows work on, keeps them motivated and facilitates weekly meetings with them.

“The Wall Fellows have a heart for giving back and for making a difference in the world around them,” Cummings said. “They have worked diligently during the past year to partner with Aramark and the Food Recovery Network to help those in need in our area and to reduce the amount of uneaten food from our campus. We are so excited to be able to feed some of the people in need instead of discarding our excess food.”

Other Food Recovery Network chapters also pair up with neighboring restaurants to further efforts in donating unused food. CCU’s chapter is still in the process of locating a restaurant to team up with to extend the reach of the project.

The Wall Fellows program prepares top students across all of CCU colleges for high-level careers in U.S. and international organizations. The two-year program provides the students with one-on-one career and personal coaching and includes a required three credit hour course each semester that covers specific areas. They must use their skills for a series of internships, special projects and workshops.

If you are having a catered event on campus, you can contact the Food Recovery Network at frnccu@coastal.edu at least 48 hours before the event to have the leftover food donated.

The Wall Fellows are looking for new members to join the Food Recovery Network in the fall. The members can be students, faculty, staff or volunteers. There will be recoveries every Friday, but only five members have to be present each time. In order to become a volunteer, you must pass the food safety training. If you are interested in joining the group, contact the Food Recovery Network at frnccu@coastal.edu.

 

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