Monday, December 16, 2013

Tis...the end of the season.

Here it is, the last newsletter of the fall 2013 semester. I think we're all asking ourselves where the time went -- as we always do -- and what on Earth the next semester will bring. As far as FRN goes, we hope to see your faces again next year! We will be looking for somenew people on the LT and Supervisors will be getting some new responsibilities. A commitment form for next semester will be sent out over break, and it will include a section on feedback if you want to let us know how you thought the semester went. Applications for the LT and such will be sent later on. 

From the whole LT, we thank you SO much for your help this semester; we couldn't have done it without you! We hope the new structure worked well for you all and improvement will continue to be made.

To leave you all with one last thought: what would you propose FRN do, so that we can eventually not exist? Read Rosalie's article below and let us know what you think.

Have a wonderful break!

*This semester is my (Charlotte) last on the LT, but I'll see you all in the future as a fellow Rep! 

The Weight of the World

by Rosalie Kissel (Rep)
     For the past few months (my first months at Brown), my food-centric student activities have taught me a great deal.  In my other clubs, I have gotten to turn compost, work at the student garden, discuss labor rights issues, and meet some fantastic and dedicated individuals.  But my first FRN delivery gave me something entirely unique. During that first Monday night pickup, I felt that I was making a difference in the greater Providence community.  What I did was so small.  I lifted a few boxes, carried a few bags, walked a few blocks.  But I got to be a part of a national organization that has saved over 96,000 meals from being wasted and consequently warded off hunger 96,000 times.  The weight of the box in my arms and the wafting smell of croissants made me feel that tangible good was coming from what I did, what we all were doing together.
     From the time I was seven until I was almost seventeen I volunteered at the Potter League for Animals, an animal shelter in Middletown, Rhode Island. A few years ago, the shelter was entirely rebuilt to accommodate more animals, enhance the building’s level of sustainability, and provide a more comfortable environment for the people and creatures that spent their days there.  One day, while walking some dogs in the field out back, I turned to my mother, a fellow volunteer, and asked, “If you could wish one thing for the new shelter, what would it be?”
     “I wish it didn’t have to exist,” she replied. In an ideal world, no one would leave their dog when they moved away, no cats would be found wandering the streets, no owners would be abusive.  In an ideal world, all animals would be wanted and cared for, and there would be no need for the Potter League.
     As a volunteer for FRN, I can see that the organization’s ultimate dream is that it won’t have to exist; not only that food won’t be wasted, but also that the shelters we serve won’t need to exist either. When thinking of what it will take to reach a point in America’s history where organizations like FRN won’t have to exist, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand.  At times, I wonder if I am really helping at all.  It is commonly acknowledged that modern hunger in America is not caused by a lack of food, but rather by the inability of individuals and families to regularly afford food.  There is more than enough food to nourish every Providence man, woman, and child at the Urban League, the McAuley House, and all of the organizations we serve.  The problem is not quantity, it is access.  I understand this now.  No matter the number of days Victoria (my pickup partner) and I bring in over twenty pounds of food from the Blue Room, we will not solve the problems of poverty, violence, and food insecurity in America; we cannot ensure that every member of the Providence community gets healthy, fresh food on a regular basis. 
     Having realized the enormity of the social ills FRN is addressing, by my second delivery weight of the box in my arms and the wafting smell of croissants did not make me feel quite so good. Yes, I would help feed people that night, but what was I doing to help make their lives better in the long run? I felt discouraged.  The next day, I picked up a book in my room – “On Virtues,” a book written by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  I flipped to a page that I had bookmarked over the summer.  On the page was a quotation from Edmund Burke, a great eighteenth century Irish political thinker. It read: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”
     After reading that quotation a few times over, it finally sunk in: I shouldn’t get bogged down in the magnitude of what FRN is addressing.  I should do my part and feel good about it. Just because I cannot fix everything that is wrong with America, does not mean that I shouldn’t try to help those in need.  Now, I take pride in what I get to do every Monday: “a little.” Each and every week, the other volunteers and I are working bit by bit to create something wonderful, a world in which the Food Recovery Network does not have to exist.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1st

by Charlotte Hacke (LT Coordinator)

The beginning of the last month of the year. The month of the (official) beginning of winter, and of course of the holiday that seems to be looming over us throughout the entire year: Christmas. What does this all mean for most of us? Cold weather, snow, and time for vacation/family. However, what would this mean for many of our community partners? A  search for winter coats & open shelters. Luckily, there are a few opportunities in Providence for these two things.


  • There was a drive for coats on Black Friday. Check out the story here.
  • Coats for coffee: Seven Stars & Courtesy Cleaners team up to donate a cup of coffee to each person who donates a winter coat! Coats are still available at the South Side Girls & Boys Club in Providence. Full story is here
In terms of shelters, they are squeezing in as many people as they can (as always). Special Christmas dinners will happen in most of them, but more info on that later. For now, bagels are a good way to pack on the pounds for the cold winter months to come! 

New Partnership: Crossroads Shelter

 by Shelby Wilson (LT Coordinator)

Starting next semester nightly donations will be delivered to Crossroads Shelter in place of Urban League. Crossroads is a multi-faceted organization that provides crisis intervention, case management, temporary housing and shelter, education and vocational services, and health and dental care. Within the shelter program there are three separate centers, “Operation First Step Emergency Assessment Shelter,” a women’s shelter, and a family shelter. Additionally Crossroads maintains five separate transitional housing facilities, providing the formerly homeless an avenue back into stable living environments. Chef Dave Rocheleau is enthusiastic to partner with FRN this spring, and will be a great resource for those who seek additional opportunities for direct service. 

The Value of a Bagel

by Leah Haykin (Rep)

   I have now been a volunteer with FRN at Brown for about two months. In that short amount of time, my weekly shifts have taught me the true value of a single bagel.
   When I first got my shift with FRN, I was somewhat disappointed. Sunday nights? That is prime homework time! And picking up from Poppy’s in the Nelson Fitness Center? That’s across campus! However, as I walked to my first shift, I grew excited for the large bags and boxes filled with food that I would surely find waiting for me, to ultimately be delivered to those suffering from food insecurity in Providence.
    I was certainly not expecting what happened when I finally arrived at Poppy’s. I opened the sliding doors of the eatery wearing my telling FRN pin. The BuDS worker working the closing shift looked at me, deadpan, and gestured toward the empty shelves beside him. “There’s nothing left today,” he said. And so I began my oh-so-long walk back home, clearly defeated by my high expectations of saving the world with bagels and croissants.
     The following months proved more of the same. On the luckiest of days, I would pick up three pounds of baked goods. More often than not, however, I would pick up about a pound of baked goods—equivalent to say, three bagels.
     Three bagels. Is that really worth it? Is it really worth the half hour of walking, not to mention lost study time? At the beginning, my answer to both of these questions was tending towards “no.”
      My parents very much believed in the importance of instilling a sense of social justice in my sister and me. As such, they took us to volunteer at a homeless shelter in downtown Portland, Oregon, every week. One memory in particular stands out.
      One night, after volunteering at the shelter, my sister and I stood outside waiting for my father to pick us up. As we waited a man, clearly homeless, began to talk with us. Without the structure of the shelter I was afraid at first. “Please,” he begged, “please can you ask them to bring me food? Please?” By “them,” he meant the shelter. The shelter was closed; there was nothing that we could do. But as we waited, we continued to talk. His name was Dan. He was an injured Vietnam veteran with psychological issues; he was convinced that he was an astronaut, among other things. He had waited in line for three days in a row hoping to get into the shelter without success. The only thing he had to eat in those three days was a doughnut from Voodoo Donuts, a Portland landmark.
       As the weeks and months progressed and I truly began to question whether my weekly excursions to Poppy’s were worth it, I began to think about Dan, and the value of something as seemingly small as a single donut or a single bagel. Spending a half hour to retrieve three bagels may seem cumbersome to someone like me—middle class, Ivy League-educated, relatively privileged me. But to those who are not so lucky, a single bagel could mean so, so much more. Since having this realization, weekly trips to Poppy’s don’t feel so long, and small deliveries feel all the more important.
        And that is how FRN taught me the value of a single bagel.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Food Network Channel’s The Big Waste: Ugly Food

by Tamar Kaminski (Rep)

A couple of years ago the Food Network Channel had a competition among four prominent chefs called The Big Waste to see who could make the best meal using food from farms, grocery stores, and other food suppliers that was thrown out or in the process of being thrown out. The program followed chefs Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli, Bobby Flay, and Michael Simon as they retrieved food in the process of being thrown out and later made restaurant quality food for a hundred people. This was an amazing awareness tactic—famous chefs in a competition on a channel whose audience is obviously invested in food.
Although they covered an array of topics involving food waste—different sources of food waste and ways to deal with it (including “dumpster diving”)—I think one of the critical messages of the show was responsible consumerism. Many of the grocery stores threw away bruised and blemished produce because costumers only buy “pretty” produce. There were similar issues with meat, fish, and egg suppliers; Food has to be aesthetically pleasing to the consumer, otherwise it goes to waste.
What can we do as consumers to deal with this issue?
1. Start buying “ugly” food. As proven on The Big Waste, a lot of food waste is completely edible and has the capacity to be made into restaurant quality meals, whether it is ugly or not uniform or past the sell date (different from the expiration date!). Consuming more ugly food means showing food suppliers that there is a demand for ugly food; they don’t have to throw away the produce left over at the end of the day.
2. Start eating the “ugly” food you have at home. That over-ripe tomato can be turned into marinara sauce and that brown banana can be turned into delicious banana bread. Be creative. Have fun with it.
Woo ugly food!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Wonderful Act of Gleaning

You may or may not have heard of this term, "gleaning," before, but it is used to describe the act of picking up unharvested food from farms at the end of their season. The food is perfectly good to eat, but it is left behind for reasons such as appearance, weight, or faulty mechanical harvesting. Luckily, there are the few, the gleaners, who pick up recover this delicious and nutritious food! 

One organization, Society of St. Andrew (SoSA), gleans food from farmers and brings it to places that feed those in need. Linda Tozer from SoSA stated, ""we are trying to build a network that will take food that would not make it to market for a variety of reasons and get it to agencies that are feeding the hungry" in an interview on NPR news in January 2011. The interview gives insight as well as to why so much produce is leftover to glean (in this particular case from a farm in TN, over 1,000lbs. of produce from one day!). Gleaning is not always "worth the farmer's time" nor concern. However, most farmers are not against gleaning (if they are notified of it, of course). It's tricky for farmers to say when exactly they are done selling as much produce as they can, in time for the gleaners to come before it all goes bad. However, if gleaners come in time, farmers can get a tax deduction from it.* 

Before gleaning, ask the farmer if they consent with it, and also when the best time of year to come is. From experience, it is most often okay with the farmer, and fall is the ideal season to glean away! By gleaning, one is helping the farmer clear his/her fields of produce that would otherwise rot in the ground. More so, it is a nutritional food recovery, whereas a lot of food recovery deals with less nutritious food (i.e. bagels, cookies, etc.). Plus, to glean, one has to get outside and be in direct contact with the farmer and his/her farm, which calls for fresh air and exercise! In the end, gleaning is a beneficial act for the farmer, the hungry, the gleaner, the economy, and the environment. 

*All facts/statements/quotes above were pulled from this interview on NPR news. Listen to it for the full 4-minute story!

  • JOIN US to go GLEAN some APPLES this SATURDAY! Sign up by WEDNESDAY here. Go to our fb event for details. 
  • Here is a list of farms in RI that let you pick your own produce/glean! Contact them for more info.
  • US efforts to help fight hunger by gleaning are highlighted in this story byNPR news. There's a short podcast featuring the Society of St. Andrew gleaning recovery program and a farm in TN. 
  • Check out the Society of St. Andrew here; a food recovery program centered around ending hunger through gleaning! They have a "food wasted in the US" counter on their home page, as well as their statistic of 25 million pounds of produce recovered! Woa. Impressive.
  • "The Gleaners and I" (originally "Les glaneurs et la glaneuse") a film by Agnes Varda from France in 2000, is an AWESOME documentary about gleaningHere is the full-length film online for free! It's even legal!
  • Check out the Garden Against Hunger project that Boulder Food Rescue started! It's aim is to recover excess food grown from local growers in Boulder and also to help educate the Boulder community about growing food. Pretty awesome. 

By LT Member Charlotte Hacke

Monday, October 14, 2013

October News for Community Outreach and Involvement

Strengthening Partnerships, Parting ways, and formalizing the Stages In-between

McAuley House: Strengthening Partnerships
As of October 13, 2013, FRN@ Brown is excited to announce an expanded partnership with McAuley House. Larry Loverty, McAuley’s Kitchen Manager, will now recover both Wednesday 11:30am and Friday 11:30am pickups from the Sharpe Refractory. Additionally Larry expects increased student involvement through volunteer shadowing shifts during morning pickups throughout the week.
These shadowing shifts or “ride alongs” would give individual reps a behind the scenes look at how and where our partner organizations actually acquire large volumes of food from both private and public sources. Interested reps should email, and expect an early morning bus commute followed by 2-3 hours of heavy lifting and loading. Your mission- should you choose to except it- would include fun, experiential education about high volume food distribution, and insider knowledge of McAuley’s meal service operations. The FRN@ Brown Leadership highly encourages reps to pursue this opportunity, and expects that shifts will fill fast. Thus email ASAP to ensure your ideal scheduling!

We Share Hope: Parting ways
            As of October 11, 2013, FRN@ Brown and We Share Hope (WSH) are parting ways. This unfortunate but necessary development comes after a series of meetings and conversations with WSH’s founder, Steve Martin. During these conversations, it became clear that the high volume output and operations of WSH and the relatively low-volume pickup at Sharpe Refractory were incompatible. Thus, the good news: Steve and WSH will have more time and availability for extremely high volume pickups and run a more efficient and effective service for RI’s food insecure. The bad news: WSH will no longer be available to recover food on Friday shifts. Graciously, Steve Martin has offered his continued support and mentorship for FRN and its members and encouraged partnership on future events such as gleaning and shift shadowing for pickup and delivery events.

RIHAP and HOPE: Formalizing Shelter Standards
Thanks to the generous support of Jana Foxe of Brown’s Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE), FRN has begun formalizing the process of vetting partner organizations and shelters. This process necessarily involves input from shelter management, the homeless who frequent shelters, and a wide variety of organizations involved in case management, homelessness outreach, and food insecurity. RIHAP (Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project) drafted a letter to send to shelters with poor standards- i.e. no hot water or allegations of staff eating donated food- and is seeking input from FRN@Brown. Unfortunately, Urban League, our night donation recipient, is one of the shelters named on this list. Thus, we are currently in the process of reviewing the letter and will integrate insight and recommendations from RIHAP and HOPE  into FRN’s first ever Shelter Contract Statutes.

By formalizing the process of shelter vetting we can ensure that donations are being used efficiently and reaching those who need food the most. Additionally, various shelters may impose intake requirements that actively support political agendas that do not align with FRN@Brown’s inclusive and secular stance. One example of this is the rejection of LGBTQ guests due to their non-heterosexual lifestyle. Thankfully, this is not an issue we have faced with our partners in Rhode Island, but it serves as one example of how and why written statutes will guide future partnerships for FRN on a national scale and ensure that we provide support to socially responsible institutions. Interested students are encouraged to email with any input, comments, and questions about this process. A focus group meeting will be scheduled if sufficient interest is expressed in relation to this project.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 3 of FRN@Brown, Fall 2013.

Tis right. We have begun.

Not only have we begun the semester, but we have begun it with our new volunteer structure. And so far, so good. YES.

I would like to take a moment to thank all of the students who applied to be either a Rep or a Supervisor this year! It was awesome to see the level of engagement and interest everyone has during our Orientation sessions. It's one thing to devote 10 minutes of your time to a pickup per week, but it's another to also spend an hour and a half discussing food insecurity and distribution.

I cannot wait to see what kind of projects we accomplish and goals we create! I'm pumped for this year and, fellow FRNd, I hope you are too.

P.S. I'm not really sure why our Leadership Team is obsessed with images of animals and food right now, but here's the most recent one:

Saturday, September 21, 2013


A place to get cheap, yet decent quality food? Does a place exist as such in Providence, RI? Yes, oh yes. That place is called Aldi's.

I ventured over to Smith Hill yesterday to finally check out Aldi's: a place that fellow students told me to check out, but had never done so, out of sheer laziness & some doubt. After a more-than-successful experience though, my friend and I had to find out more about this place. How does it exist?

Aldi's, in fact, is owned by the same German brothers who own Trader Joe's. Aldi's sells quality products at a low price by "stocking fewer items, eschewing national brands for cheaper generic labels and not accepting credit cards."(TIME) That being said, the shelves didn't appear sketchily scarce, nor were all of the brands unrecognizable (Bolthouse Farms, Organic Valley, etc.). One's shopping experience at Aldi's doesn't seem second-rate either, because of its cleanliness and organization. Doesn't this all just make sense? An affordable, pleasant shopping experience due largely to the fact that it just doesn't stock as much? It's stocks how much it needs. No more, no less. 

Trader Joe's, the brothers' other store, follows the same model, yet offers a few other products, mostly branded by the company itself. However, they too practice not overstocking and a quality shopping experience. 

Aldi's & Trader Joe's are gaining popularity in the supermarket world, according to TIME Magazine. I hope the rest of the grocery store world catches on quickly...then maybe grocer food waste won't be as bountiful. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

And it begins.

Greetings everyone!

Here we are again, back in the full swing of the semester already! We, the LT, met last Sunday morning in the wonderful garden of the Urban Environmental Lab. The sun was shining, we were surrounded by juicy veggies, and lovely company...not too bad of a start.

After our weekly check-in (highs & lows, rose & thorn, whatever you want to call it...), we talked a lot about how we are wanting this semester to be like. There will be a big shift in our operations regarding volunteers, for we are now having everyone APPLY first. The choices are FRN@Brown Rep or FRN@Brown Supervisor (see page for further detail). Why you might ask? We feel that having people apply to be a part of the program will create a stronger, more committed dynamic amongst the group. The more "official" aspect to applying, we hope, will create more accountability from everyone as well as bring the importance to the title a FRN@Brown volunteer deserves. (Excuse the uppity sound this last bit has, but it's true! Volunteering your own time to help others in a very crucial, yet simple way is work and should get some high recognition!)

Anywho, welcome back all. Upcoming events:

-Activities Fair, Tues. 9/10 7pm-10pm, OMAC
-Info Sessions:
    -Wed. 9/11, 7pm, Wilson 105
    -Thurs, 9/12, 7pm, Wilson 301

Applications to become a Rep or a Supervisor are due by THIS Friday (9/13) evening!!!