Elena is a rising junior concentrating in Public Policy. She is also a participant of the TRI-Lab program, an initiative that brings together Brown students, faculty, and community practitioners to engage with complex social issues and develop solutions to these issues. The inspiration for the following story comes from the spring 2016 TRI-Lab, "Designing Education for Prison Health," which attempts to design better resources for health education within the criminal justice system.
Feed People, Not Landfills
Renata is a rising senior from Orinda, California double concentrating in Environmental Studies and Urban Studies and a TRI-Lab participant. Much of her past experience with healthy food access has been in the context of partnering with homeless shelters. She has been working with the Food Recovery Network in different capacities over the past three years. You can often find her reading on one of Brown’s various greens.
The Food Recovery Network (FRN) is a very simple idea: take excess food and redistribute it to where it is needed. The FRN started in 2011 at the University of Maryland through a group of students realizing how much excess food was wasted on their own campus. The students began working with their dining services department to schedule recoveries to donate that food to nearby shelters. Word spread to a group of Brown students who began to do the same.
Since then, FRN has spread to nearly 100 schools across the country and has recovered over 407,000 pounds of food that was diverted from landfills to dinner tables. We co-host events with the Providence College group Friar Food Rescue.
I am spending this summer working on a few different projects within the group. For the first time, we are running recoveries over the summer months so we have recruited and trained volunteers and have begun recovering food from a couple sites around College Hill.
Some other projects that we have discussed previously but never have time for during the school year include a survey for FRN chapters regarding their partnerships with shelters and the ethics behind how they choose partners, transcribing our operations and protocols into a comprehensive document, continuing to expand our partnerships by reaching out to potential shelter partners and farms to further our gleaning efforts.
On Brown Staff Development day, FRN representatives joined faculty and staff in bagging 236 lunches for Crossroads RI, one of FRN’s partners. It is through events like this we are hoping to spread awareness about issues of food insecurity, homelessness and excess food and even recruit volunteers other than undergraduate students.
Although, we just started our recoveries, problems with logistics have challenged us to reevaluate how we approach our operations and also our partnerships. We are hoping to add new community partners to our roster in the hopes of better distributing our impact and solutions to our scheduling issues!
June 24, 2016“The experience of running this program has changed the way I look at this issue dramatically… It’s taught me that rehabilitation is possible but extremely hard.”
December 7, 2015
October 29, 2015
July 3, 2015
May 4, 2015
TRI-Lab is a new initiative with the Swearer Center that combines teaching, research, and impact. In the Climate Change and Environmental Justice Lab, students on the communications team learn that the road to a meaningful project is not always a smooth ride.
April 29, 2015
We’re representatives from No Vacancy, one of three student groups in the Swearer Center’s Teaching, Research, and Impact Lab (TRI-Lab) on climate change and environmental justice. TRI-Lab is an engaged research program that allows students, faculty, and community members to collectively study and address social issues in the Providence area. For this particular TRI-Lab on climate justice issues, researchers are working on increasing resilience in the West End area of Providence.