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Zero Hunger Hero: ‘Starving’ students at the U rescue food for those in need

Posted at 2:22 PM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 16:22:53-04

We usually refer to college students as "starving," but there's a group at the University of Utah who is actually helping to feed the hungry in Utah.

"Since starting in 2015, our grand total has been 42,000 pounds [of food] that has been recovered."

That's Adriann Liceralde, a University of Utah student who volunteered so much at the U Food Recovery Network that he became the president of the organization.

"The most rewarding I would say is when we deliver the food to the homeless shelter," he said.

He and fellow student volunteers have a partnership with Chartwells, the dining company that runs many of the eateries on the U's campus. Students with the U Food Recovery Network stop by Chartwells three times a week to rescue their delicious, chef-prepared leftovers (that are from that day or at most, the day before). After wrapping the food, they distribute it to places like the Rescue Mission, where it gets directly to people who need it.

"They contribute a lot;  they help us a lot to help us reduce waste," said Jennifer Nielsen, sustainability coodinator for Chartwells Dining Services, talking about the student group.

Chartwells itself fights food waste in other ways.

"We only cook a little bit at a time so we're not over-serving or over-preparing food," Jennifer said.

Not only are the U Food Recovery Network and Chartwells reducing waste on the meal-prep side, but also, they're encouraging people to be picky with what goes on their plate.

Signage around the dining rooms encourage patrons to take only what they can eat, and go back for more if necessary.

Jennifer says their food waste awareness campaign is working. Diners went from throwing away about 15,000 pounds of food one month, to less than 5,000 pounds the next month.

Because of the work the U Food Recovery Network and Chartwells are doing to end food waste and hunger in Utah, they are the recipients of this month's Zero Hunger Hero Award, brought to you by Smith's Food and Drug, and Fox13 News.

600,000 pounds of food go to waste every year in the U.S., which is enough to feed every hungry Utahn three square meals a day for more than a year. So how do we get that food to the people who need it? Food rescuers! If you want to help, download the app called, "Food Rescue U.S."