TCU Food Recovery Network impacts community by eliminating waste

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As part of its mission to eliminate food waste, the TCU Chapter of the Food Recovery Network has recovered around 2,700 pounds of food so far this semester.

The Food Recovery Network (FRN) is part of a nationwide organization effort to unite students on college campuses to join the movement against food waste and hunger. 

The organization was brought to TCU by MiguelAngel Lopez, Class of 2017, and his coordinated program in dietetics.

TCU FRN packs coolers full of recovered food waste in preparation for delivery. (Photo courtesy of Grace Dieb)

Megan McCracken, a senior communication studies and Spanish major, has led the TCU chapter since last year.  McCracken said she is passionate about eliminating food waste, working with those in need and making a difference in the community.

The chapter works with Sodexo, TCU’s dining services provider and a local charity where they redistribute the recovered food.

“It’s a simple concept,” McCracken said. “We’re collecting what we have too much of and giving it to those who don’t have enough.”

TCU FRN partners with Union Gospel Mission, a local Christian ministry dedicated to providing hope and new beginnings for Fort Worth’s homeless population, and delivers food to the shelter weekly.

Caroline Cheatwood, the organization’s service director and chief communication officer, is in charge of coordinating each delivery.

Every Wednesday and Friday members of the club pick up the leftovers from campus and drive them to Union Gospel Mission.

Leftover food from TCU’s dining hall is collected and recovered by FRN members. (Photo courtesy of Grace Dieb)

“Every time we come they are so overwhelmed,” Cheatwood said. “They are always so thankful and appreciative.”

On average, Market Square produces around 40 to 70 pounds of food per weekly pickup, but the biggest recoveries come from home football games, which can weigh anywhere from 500 to 1000 pounds, Cheatwood said.

Grace Dieb, the public relations coordinator for the chapter, said the organization served nearly 700 people on the last visit at Union Gospel Mission.

“We were able to serve families and children,” she said. “It is just awesome to see TCU giving back to the community.”

The chapter is looking to grow by providing more opportunities for students to get involved and by hosting more events on campus.

“Being a young organization, our main focus has definitely been food recoveries,” McCracken said. “But we hope as we continue to grow, we can do more stuff on campus and reach out to more community organizations.”

Students can join the fight against food waste by signing up to join the organization on OrgSync or simply by becoming wary of their own consumer waste McCracken said.

“If anyone has the opportunity to go to Union Gospel Mission or anywhere in the community they should,” McCracken said. “It is incredible to see the spirit and how happy others are even given their current circumstances.”

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that MiquelAngel Lopez founded the TCU chapter of the Food Recovery Network.