When Ben Simon, a senior at the University of Maryland, happened to be in the cafeteria during closing time and saw the amount of totally edible food being trashed. He walked up to the staff and requested if he and his friends could donate the left overs to the homeless, to which the staff happily obliged. This was his first food delivery in September 2011. To this day his organization, The Food Recovery Network has rescued 200,000 pounds of food from cafeterias around the nation. The mission is to mobilize students to salvage unused food and give it to local residents in need. Starting as an initiative in the University of Maryland and then teaming up with the Brown University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Pomona College, The Food Recovery Network has expanded to 49 campuses worldwide. However the organization’s goal is to open chapters at 75 campuses by the end of the 2014 school year.
Some of the inspiration for Simon’s work with the organization comes from the fact that his father brought home a homeless man when Simon was in high school which provided him with an understanding of his priorities and the world. “It gave me a special glimpse at what it’s like to be poor and to not have your own place to stay,” Simon says. “To personally become a very close friend of someone like that was transformative.” The Food Recovery Network, which is currently stationed at an eclectic communal office on Maryland’s campus called the Startup Shell, aim to start a certification program, open a consulting line of business that empowers other organizations to eliminate food waste and ultimately house chapters at 1,000 colleges by May 2018, recovering 10 million pounds of food in the process.