EPA Award Recognizes Wellesley’s Work with Food Rescue Program

October 1, 2018
Food from Wellesley dining halls are loaded onto a truck.

In February, Wellesley joined the nonprofit partnership Food For Free, which collects surplus food and delivers it to individuals and families in need. Recently, Wellesley and its partners in the program received a 2018 Environmental Merit Award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s been a big success in more ways than one,” said Dorothea Von Herder, coordinator of the Campus Sustainability Programs. “We are involved with an effort to deliver nutritious surplus food to needy families, which is also an issue of social justice. We’re working in concert with other schools and organizations. Nutrition is a local, regional, and worldwide issue, and we’re active in contributing to a solution.”

Other organizations in the partnership include Babson College, Bentley University, Olin College of Engineering, and public elementary and public middle schools in Wellesley. All are members of the Food Rescue Initiative in the town of Wellesley, which received the award.

Alison Cross, a lead coordinator of Food Rescue Initiative, said the College has donated 600 pounds of food since February and is projected to donate about 2,000 pounds—enough food for 1,700 meals—in the current school year.

Overall, the group has donated 16,000 pounds of food which was enough to provide dinners per day for 2,800 people in a week, said Cross. She said the efforts may be expanded to include donations from other area schools and institutions, such as retirement care facilities.

“The need for donated food is incredibly urgent,” said Cross. “Of the 42 million Americans who face food insecurity, about 40 percent do not qualify for government-provided safety nets such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. So the role of food rescue programs such as these is crucial in addressing that gap in assistance.”

Christine Beling, an EPA engineer who worked with the group, said the agency is hoping to see food recovery expanded into Rhode Island.