Many students at Illinois State have joined the student chapter for the Food Recovery Network (FRN) to help in the fight against hunger. The student chapter on campus helps pick up leftover food from the dining halls and takes it to Home Sweet Home Ministries (HSHM) so that it can be distributed to people in need of food.
These volunteers worked so hard that the student chapter received national recognition last year from FRN for all the hard work they put into this program. They were recognized as “Top Food Recover-er” for 2020, logging more food recoveries than 99 percent of the FRN chapters in the country. The students delivered over a ton of food to those in need over the course of the academic year.
“We are so excited and very appreciative of the national recognition we gained for our efforts and the contributions we made in our community,” said Elizabeth Gilmore, a junior elementary education major who is also the co-president and co-founder of the student chapter of FRN at Illinois State.
The FRN is a national nonprofit that brings students together to help fight against hunger and to help improve our carbon footprint.
“The FRN greatly impacts our area,” said Gilmore. “Food insecurity is an issue that one in eight Americans face, including many people in our community.”
FRN volunteers collect leftover food that did not go out to customers at the dining halls on campus as well as Bone Student Center, and then safely deliver it to HSHM, where the food is then served to HSHM clients. FRN refers to the overall process as a “recovery.”
“All food that is served to the members of the community is only the extra food that went untouched,” said Phillip Cade, Illinois State University Catering Chef. “Any of the food that does not go out to customers, gets put in pans, cooled overnight, and then labeled for delivery for the next day.” This is when the student volunteers will then come and pick the food up to take to HSHM.
Members of the FRN will sign up for a recovery based on their availability. Two to three volunteers are usually needed to complete each recovery. After the food drop off, the members need to fill out a form to log the recovery, and then the trip is complete. All things considered, each recovery usually takes 30-45 minutes, depending on how many leftovers are coming from the dining halls. These recoveries are very easy to do yet make such a huge impact on the community.
Something that is also very important is that most of the food that goes out to the community is very healthy. “Most of the food supplemented by the FRN includes great amounts of protein and healthy vegetables,” said Carol Schrenk, food services manager at HSHM.
“The food that we are getting from these students helps HSHM immensely. With the food they are bringing from the dining halls, we are able to feed so many people who have a hard time getting food,” said Schrenk. “The work of these students has been an absolute answer to prayer for so many.”
Not only are these students helping the members of their community, but they are also improving their carbon footprint.
“Last semester, we recovered over 2,100 pounds of food and saved 4,089 kg of CO2 from entering our atmosphere,” said Gilmore. “This is the equivalent of the electricity consumption of an entire household, which is pretty amazing.”
Any students interested in volunteering for the FRN are more than welcome to ask to become a member on Redbird Life, DM them on Instagram, request to join the Illinois State FRN Chapter Facebook group, or contact Elizabeth Gilmore. The FRN is always looking for new volunteers, so if any individual is interested, they should definitely reach out.