A group of students team up to start the Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland.
Ben Simon, who grew up in Kensington and now lives in Silver Spring, was sitting in a University of Maryland, College Park dining hall toward closing time about two years ago when he and his friends noticed a lot of unserved food going to waste. So he and two fellow students—Mia Zavalij, who grew up in Olney, and Evan Ponchick, who was from Connecticut—joined forces to start the Food Recovery Network at UMD.
“It’s a network of 11 different student groups on campus,” Simon says. “Each group takes one night a week, collecting the unused food and bringing it to a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or church.”
The organization now has chapters on 22 campuses across the country, saving more than 165,000 pounds of food nationwide. And it’s partnering with the Montgomery County Council this fall to create a countywide food recovery program.
Simon, who’s studying government and politics and public policy, plans to graduate in December. Meanwhile, he’s pleased that his idea is taking root with young people. “It’s a common-sense idea that deserves to spread,” he says, “and we hope more students will bring it to their schools.”