Making use of uneaten food


A group of students at Butler University are working to fill empty bellies and prevent uneaten food from rotting in landfills.

The Food Recovery Network, a student organization, takes cooked or uneaten leftovers from basketball games and donates them to local shelters.

“Food Recovery is about reducing waste,” Lauren Wathen, volunteer coordinator of Butler’s Food Recovery Network, said. “[We] take the food and redistribute it.”

The Butler chapter of the Food Recovery Network is the first chapter in Indiana. Nationally, the nonprofit has chapters at 113 colleges spanning 30 states and has recovered over 617,000 pounds of food. The organization’s leaders hope to have a chapter on all college campuses nationwide to make a greater impact.

Butler’s Food Recovery Network has already started to see the positive impact the program has on the community.

“The first recovery that we did was [after] a women’s game about three weeks ago,” Wathen said. “They only had one concession stand, so there wasn’t a whole lot of food, but we took it there and they were so happy.

“It was just popcorn and barbeque pork, but they said, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you so much! This is great! We’ll use this for snacks.’ It really does make an impact, I believe.”

The Food Recovery Network must coordinate with the university to determine which games they can attend and what food is available to take. After the decision is made, volunteers help pack the food to distribute to the shelter of their choice.

Because of the group’s success, Butler’s chapter will expand this March. Atherton Union’s leftover and uneaten foods will be donated as well.

Wathen said the network hopes to recover food from Atherton once or twice a week. She encourages other campus groups, organizations and individuals to volunteer for the cause.

“We hope that we can grow with Butler,” she said. “It is such a service-oriented school. Butler really is trying to be green, so this is just such a great way to do that for the Butler [community].”