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Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative

Why food rescue?

Every year 40% of food grown for consumption in the United States goes to waste. At the same time, 41.2 million Americans live in food insecure households with women and children experiencing a disproportionate amount of the burden (ers.usda.gov, 2016). Unfortunately, for many people living in Medford and Somerville, food insecurity is not an abstract concept. Alongside affordable housing, access to affordable, healthy, and culturally appropriate food is among the central issues confronting our host community. University dining halls can serve not only as a platform to educate and engage students on the important issues of hunger and food waste, but can also create systematic changes to minimize food waste and repurpose surplus, prepared food that can be used to feed people in need.

What is Tufts doing about it?

In 2015, Food for Free, a non-profit based in Cambridge that recovers food from farms, stores and schools, in collaboration with Tufts undergraduate students, local school counselors, district level officials, and graduate students from the Friedman School of Nutrition started the Family Meals program, repackaging surplus, prepared food to provide more than 400 meals every week for homeless families living at the Day St. Hotel in Boston.

This preliminary work paved the way for the formation in March 2016 of the Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative, a partnership between Tufts Dining, staff/faculty, students and Food For Free to minimize food waste at Tufts while at the same time addressing food insecurity in the local host community. Through this community coalition, Tufts dining donates about 200 lbs. of food per week to Food for Free. This food is packaged by student volunteers in ready-to-eat meals that Food for Free delivers to families and students in need in the Greater Boston area.

The info graphic below summarizes TFRC's contributions to Family Meals throughout the Spring semester of 2019, during which student volunteers packaged more than 1,100 meals.

Learn more about Food For Free and their collaboration with Tufts Dining in this presentation:
Bridging the gap between waste and want: Turning Potentially Wasted Food into a Solution for Hunger
Sasha Purpura, Executive Director, Food For Free
Patti Klos, Director of Dining and Business Services, Tufts Dining

TFRC partners:

  • Tufts Dining
  • Food for Free
  • Somerville Homeless Coalition, Project SOUP Food Pantry
  • Student Leadership Team, Volunteer Cohort, and individual student volunteers — you can sign up for volunteer shifts!
  • Leonard Carmichael Society (LCS) Food Rescue
  • Academic departments/programs:
    • Environmental Studies
    • Food Systems and Nutrition Minor
    • Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life
    • Friedman School of Nutrition
    • Community Health

How can YOU help?

We are always looking for volunteers to:

  • Package Tufts surplus food into balanced, delicious "meals with dignity" in the DeWick and Carmichael kitchens, 2:00 - 3:00 pm and 3:00 - 4:00 pm respectively, Monday - Saturday.
  • Rescue food from local supermarkets on Saturday or Sunday – helpers and drivers needed. Tufts LCS provides the vans.

If you are interested in volunteering in the dining centers or have any questions about TFRC's work, please email tufts.FRC@gmail.com. The Volunteer Cohort of about 20 students run shifts in DeWick and Carmichael every week — you can join anytime by singing up on our site.

If you are interested in volunteering to rescue food from grocery stores and farmers markets on the weekends, email lcsfoodrescue@gmail.com. Thank you!