SBU students find way to donate untouched campus food items to local food banks


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Students at Stony Brook University are making it their goal to help eliminate food waste on campus and are donating their extra food to people in need.

“It’s a student success story,” said Dawn Villacci, Faculty Student Association manager for campus dining at the university. “The students are doing all of this on a volunteer basis.”

Villacci told GreaterPortJeff that it all started when students began asking how much food is being thrown away from within the campus’ dining halls. “We prepare 25,000 meals per day,” said Villacci, “And they’re prepared in small batches.”

Because of the small-batch cooking process, a ton of waste is rarely thrown out. But what goes to waste is food prepared for faculty and student events, catered by campus dining.

“People will order food and not as many people will show up to the event,” Villacci said. “We take that food, recover it and bring it to people in need.”

The students, along with the Faculty Student Association and CulinArt, teamed together to come up with a plan that allows the untouched, unused, good-to-eat food to be distributed to the hungry across Long Island. The volunteers recover the surplus food from CulinArt on campus and transport it.

Thorugh partnering with the Food Recovery Network — the largest student movement fighting against food waste and hunger — the school has donated 500 pounds of food to their partner agency, Island Harvest.

But it wasn’t just for the holidays, Villacci said. FSA and the volunteers are planning on continuing the donations throughout the 2020 school year. “It’s a great feeling to see the people we’re helping,” she said. “We are getting an extremely positive response from the student body and the volunteers.”

Right now there are 10 students involved and they are in the final stages of becoming an official chapter of the Food Recovery Network. Future plans include expanding the program from excess catering food to recovering grab-and-go products and produce from the campus convenience stores prior to expiring.

Above photo of Stony Brook Food Recovery Network students (left to right): Linda Lin, Sophia Zhukovsky, Ania Parcel, Inna Trygubchuk and Anton Kobrin / Courtesy of FSA