MVCC students give back this holiday season

Miranda Smithling and Galina Runkevich, both second year students from Frankfort, package leftover food from the Resident Dining Hall while volunteering as part of MVCC’s Food Recovery Network.

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Mohawk Valley Community College’s iServe Mohawk Valley volunteer program and Sodexo Food Service held an Open House on Dec. 2, highlighting the efforts of the College’s students to feed those less fortunate within the local community through the Food Recovery Network program.

Students who volunteer for MVCC’s Food Recovery Network chapter collect leftover food from the Utica Campus dining halls, weigh it, and package it. It then gets picked up as donations by local soup kitchens that offer hot meals to our neighbors who would otherwise go hungry.

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“MVCC’s students are making a difference to the people within the community by not letting this food go to waste,” said Kelly Fleming, program coordinator for iServe Mohawk Valley, a grant-funded program hosted on MVCC’s Rome Campus. “There are so many of our neighbors who go to bed hungry and this program is crucial to preventing that from happening. iServe Mohawk Valley has become a vital network of collaborations which is expanding and growing.”

Since launching this student-driven campaign in September, MVCC students have collected and distributed more than 1,200 pounds of food to the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen and Mother Marianne’s Westside Kitchen, located at St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church on Columbia Street in Utica.

MVCC is the only community college that is a member of the Food Recovery Network. The goal of this event is to highlight the need for such services provided by area and regional colleges during not only the holiday season, but year-round.

The Food Recovery Network is the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in the United States. It began at the University of Maryland in 2011 when a group of students noticed good dining hall food ending up in the trash at the end of the night. By the end of the school year, the Food Recovery Network at UMD had recovered 30,000 meals and delivered to District of Columbus-area partner agencies.

During the Spring 2012 semester, the second FRN chapter was founded at Brown University, and the two schools joined forces with two other campus food recovery programs at University of California, Berkeley and Pomona College. In May 2013, the Sodexo Foundation provided FRN with founding funding to hire a full-time staff and transition into a professional non-profit. In the years since, the FRN has swept the nation and made higher education the first sector where food recovery is the norm and not the exception.

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