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Editorial: Colleges should take on EPA challenge to combat hunger

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 22:12

A group of students at the University of Connecticut is taking on a social dilemma faced by one of America’s richest states. Challenged by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Community Outreach program SOS Food Recovery group works in collaboration with dining services to collect left over food to feed the hungry.

With the Thanksgiving season coming to a close, one in seven families in Connecticut struggled to put food on their tables, according to the Connecticut Food Bank. This social problem, however, is not due to the scarcity of food but instead the inability for families to afford food. This is especially troubling given that Americans are throwing out roughly $165 billion worth of food annually, according to the USA Today.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently challenged the nation to “(change) how we think about our resources for a better tomorrow.” The food recovery challenge asks participants to reduce as much food waste as possible.

“Wasted food has economic, environmental, and social impacts,” the EPA said.

“Much of this ‘waste’ is not waste at all, but actually safe, wholesome food that could potentially feed millions of Americans. Excess food, leftovers and scraps that are not fit for consumption and donation can be recycled into a nutrient-rich soil supplement.”

The SOS Food Recovery program at UConn comprises of several students ranging from freshman to seniors who volunteer their time picking up food from Bookworms Café and transporting it to the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic.

UConn Dining Services collects unsold products from all over campus and delivers it to the Bookworms Café in the Homer Babbidge Library. Later, students from the food recovery group measure the temperature of each of the items being donated, to ensure it is safe to be consumed and transport it, according to John Kelleher, site manager of the food recovery program.

The food recovery program here at the UConn represents the collaboration and symbiosis between several different programs.

Programs like the SOS Food Recovery program are bringing nationwide attention to the UConn’s campus. UConn was named the No. 1 Coolest School by the Sierra Club this year, due to “its efforts to encourage sustainability, green technology and environmental stewardship,” according to UConn Today.

The SOS Food Recovery program donated more than 500 items to the food shelter this semester according Karen Ren, program director of the food recovery program. It is programs like SOS Food Recovery that are helping shape the UConn community into a more sustainable and caring society. More campuses should take on the Environmental Protection Agency’s challenge to create a lasting worldwide impact.


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