Every Friday, a group of Fresno State students from our new chapter of the Food Recovery Network is given an incredible, not-so-secret mission: help combat hunger in Fresno! They split up and strategically collect food that, under normal conditions, would have been thrown away. This is yummy cuisine that has been prepared, but never served, from restaurants and vendors around Fresno. There is a time frame in which the students may recover the food from various locations (including, but not limited to produce from a local farmer’s market, DiCicco’s, Dusty Buns, and Fresno State’s University Dining Hall). Once all the food has been collected, they then reconvene at St. Paul’s Catholic Newman Center, and are charged with the next portion of their mission: to prepare a meal from the delicious victuals they’ve recovered. A team of committed volunteers from the Newman Center and the Fresno State students creates a menu and cooks up a storm! In the end, anyone is welcome to a free hot meal, at 6:30 pm Friday night, in the cafeteria at the Newman Center.
I have been volunteering at the Friday night dinners since they began this past summer. They require a lot of work; we have anywhere from 50-80 dinner guests per week! As I’ve volunteered, I have gained a lot of experience with food preparation, as well as learned more and more about the issue of food insecurity in our valley, and in the Fresno area. On an even smaller scale, I learned that 1 in every 3 Fresno State Students is “food insecure”. That is too many hungry students! Luckily, I can assure you that those in positions of leadership on our campus have been meeting and developing ideas for a brighter future for our hungry students, and students are encouraged to keep ears open for news of new programs and supports.
The Food Recovery Network at Fresno State has already begun making waves; we’ve even made it in the media!
Bright ideas and inspiration are always encouraged, and student volunteers are welcome! You can see the steps to becoming an active volunteer here, and contact directors Dr. Janine Nkosi and Dr. Sarah Whitley, or President Rose Cardoso for more information. At the very least, please join us for dinner one Friday night. We don’t want any food to go to waste!
How can you complete the mission to solve Fresno’s hunger problem?