Anybody who has worked in the food industry knows just how much food gets wasted on a daily basis, with hundreds of pounds of food thrown in the trash.
One group of students has decided that something needs to be done about this.
The Food Recovery Network is a national organization that works to alleviate food insecurity – also termed as not knowing where one's next meal will come from. Presiding over many chapters on college campuses across the country, FRN became an official UT organization in December and an official FRN Chapter in January.
Ryan Brown, a junior in marketing and international business and the Public Relations Coordinator for FRN, said he believes many are not aware of Knoxville's high ranking among cities struggling with food insecurity.
"When we learned this, it hit us hard enough that we couldn't just stand by and watch people struggle with food insecurity," Brown said. "Once we started looking into ways to alleviate it, we discovered the concept of food recovery."
The organization has already managed to recover more than 800 combined pounds of food from only two events.
The first recovery took place in the Neyland East Skyboxes during and after the November UT-Vanderbilt football game, salvaging 600 pounds of food for Second Harvest to pick up from a dedicated freezer.
Following this, about 187 pounds of food and 46 pounds of bottled water were recovered from the Clifton M. Jones Student Leadership Conference & MLK Day of Service in January.
Carmen Bell, senior in food science and technology and co-president of FRN, worked with the team during both recoveries.
"According to Second Harvest, 1.2 pounds of food equals one meal for a person in need," Bell said. "Judging by that measure, we've been able to provide over 660 meals to people all across East Tennessee."
But the group says this is just the beginning.
Kelsey Coombs, senior in microbiology and co-president of FRN along with Bell, said she believes the program could be expanded further.
"With the numerous campus dining options, student events and sporting events, our campus is full of opportunities to prevent food from going to waste and to help those who struggle with hunger," Coombs said.
Still new on campus, three essential positions within the organization remain available: treasurer, membership coordinator and recovery coordinator.
"Membership is open to all students and faculty," Coombs said. "We have light attendance requirements and semester dues of $5 to help with costs. Members all get notified of upcoming recoveries and can choose which they'd like to participate in."