Well, I was with some friends in the dining hall. It was near closing time. We talked to the dining hall Manager. We were like, "Whoa, is that food that looks like it's going to waste?" And they're like, "Yeah, it is." And we were like, "Can we donate that instead of throwing it away?" And they were like, "Yeah, you can." Ever since then, it was like, "Dude, what if this was at every college?"
My name is Ben Simon, and I'm a senior here at the University of Maryland College Park, and the Founder and Executive Director of Food Recovery Network. This is a lot of food. Food Recovery Network takes food from college campus dining halls that would otherwise be thrown away at the end of the day, and donates that food to hungry Americans. We started just a couple of years ago and have donated 190,000 meals to hungry Americans so far.
So this is my old room at my mom's house in Takoma Park, Maryland. This is where I got a lot of my work done, writing a lot of emails, writing some proposals, and reaching out to some of these national partners that we had today. People sometimes ask me like, "Did you ever envision this getting this big when you were on your very first recoveries?" Me and my co-founders were really dreaming of this ever since our first few hauls, our first few weeks of getting 100, 200 pounds of food every night, and just feeling like, "Wow, this is so much food. I can't believe... I can't believe all this food was getting thrown away."
A typical food recovery starts around 8:30, 9 p.m. You'll have about five students show up to the campus dining hall. We work closely with dining services, and they basically cart out the food to us that was prepared that day but wasn't served. All of our food is weighed as it's being packaged. One meal equals 1.25 pounds.
Okay, that's it.
So we take those weights of each items and just compile it to get a running estimate of how many pounds of food we've served, and then transport that food down to local non-profits that serve hungry Americans. Tonight, it's going to a women's shelter and a local church. It's hard to believe that so many Americans can go hungry when in that same community, there's such an abundance.
Ben Slye: With the food that we receive, we literally feed hundreds of people a month, especially when the ball games, you know, come in. We literally can feed 500 or more people one time. It's just been amazing the amount of food that we're receiving. The quality of the food is just incredible. We have a nice, fresh rolls. The times we're in are just really hard right now, and everybody's struggling. There's a lot of needy families, there's children going to bed hungry, and so any help we can do to decrease those numbers and give children and families the needed food that should have, it's wonderful.
It's real good.
Ben is my hero. He really is my hero. They went from starting with eight campuses and now on over 40 campuses throughout our nation, and he's not stopping.
I feel privileged to have started this organization. We want to continue to expand Food Recovery Network, and raise awareness about food recovery in general, as just a common sense solution that's good for everybody.There may be small errors in this transcript.