A group of Richmond students have organized a chapter of the Food Recovery Network on campus that aims to eliminate waste and donate food to the hungry and homeless.

The Food Recovery Network was founded in 2011 by a group of students at the University of Maryland.

Since then, it has become the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in America by uniting students on college campuses to recover perishable food that would otherwise go to waste and donate it to people in need, according to the organization's website.

Maggie Johnson, a sophomore and president of the Richmond chapter of Food Recovery Network, thought of the idea to form the group last year.

“I’ve been really into environmental issues since high school,” Johnson said. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that my passion was directly linked to sustainability, and the Food Recovery Network seemed like the perfect opportunity to make an impact on campus and in the community.”

The group collects excess food from events on campus and then works with local partner agencies in the city of Richmond to take the food and use it to feed the hungry and homeless, Johnson said.

The Richmond chapter, which currently has six members, was formed in the beginning of October and meets once a week.

Rob Andrejewski, Richmond's director of sustainability, is a faculty adviser to the group.

“There is definitely a recognized issue that we are wasting food,” Andrejewski said. “If we can intercept the food that would have been thrown away and give it to the needy then that’s a win. The Food Recovery Network can allow for us to do that.”

The group had its first food recovery event on Saturday, Nov. 7 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. after Alpha Phi Omega fraternity's regional conference.

The APO conference was hosted at the Tyler Haynes Commons and welcomed 180 guests from 30 different universities in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington D.C., said Diana Reighart, an APO conference chairwoman and member of the Richmond chapter of the Food Recovery Network.

The recovery was a success, and by partnering with the Healing Place, a Richmond city recovery program for homeless men with addiction, the Food Recovery Network was able to work with Richmond dining hall employees to donate a total of 13 containers of food to the hungry and homeless, Reighart said.

“We’re hoping to become an officially recognized student organization by the end of the semester,” Johnson said. “We eventually want to start participating in more school-sponsored events and get even more involved in the community. "

Contact reporter Matt Davison at matt.davison@richmond.edu

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