New Rams Against Hunger program to reduce food waste, food insecurity

Charlotte Lang

Rams Against Hunger has introduced a new way to reduce waste and feed students facing food insecurity.

Ram Food Recovery is a new program that allows students to receive alerts about leftover food they can pick up from catering events. The goal is to reduce food waste and support members of the campus community experiencing food insecurity.

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I only see this growing as our CSU community is so kind and willing to share with one another the great opportunities around campus.”

Mitzi South, catering and conferences manager

The idea began with students from the Associated Students Colorado State University, Eco-Leaders and the Zero Waste Team, Tonie Miyamoto, director of communications and sustainability for housing and dining, said.

“I thought it was a great idea so early last spring we pulled together representatives from Environmental Health Services, Housing & Dining Services, (Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement), ASCSU and Eco Leaders to start exploring how to make it happen,” Miyamoto said. “It took several months and a lot of intentional planning and we were able to update campus policy and put together a program that met our goals.”

Miyamoto said the idea was brought to SLiCE because the Rams Against Hunger program is both successful and well-established.

“Joining Rams Against Hunger provided a wonderful foundation and framework for our Food Recovery program and gives our campus community one more resource to address food insecurity,” Miyamoto said. “One of the things I love about CSU is how collaborative we are in our approach.”

Jen Johnson, assistant director for SLiCE, said that the Ram Food Recovery program is one of several initiatives in place to support members of the CSU community experiencing food insecurity. Other options include a mobile food pantry, a meal swipe program, pocket pantries and a process for working with Larimer county for federal benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Johnson said that, in the program, students sign up for a notification system similar to texting. When there is food left over from a catered event coming out of Housing & Dining, the catering staff will send a text to the students who signed up.

“They will get the text,” Johnson said. “They have about 30 minutes to go to the location where the event was held and collect food in their own containers.”

Mitzi South, catering and conferences manager, said that clients who order catering are informed about the program. South said this is received well as guests are always concerned about waste.

Once the event ends, the staff will check the temperature of the food to be sure it is safe and the South or a student manager will send a text containing the location and time frame for subscribers to come collect the food.

South said there is no set time frame but they will always strive for at least 30 minutes so students can get to the site and have time to get what they need. However, they also need to be aware of food safety.

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“Once the subscribers arrive, we welcome them with warm hellos and smiles; we all know this can be awkward and sometimes embarrassing,” South said. “We want them to feel welcome and comfortable as they are helping us as well.”

Ram Food Recovery coordinated its first pick-up last week.

South said the event was a great success. Approximately 16 students were fed and others were able to sign up.

“We left with very little waste and everyone seemed very happy,” South said.

South said she would like this see this continue into summer for students taking summer courses or staying in Fort Collins for residency.

“I only see this growing as our CSU community is so kind and willing to share with one another the great opportunities around campus,” South said. “I am truly just here to support in any way I can. My team— all student employees— and I are just so excited and proud to be a part of such an amazing program.”

Charlotte Lang can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @chartrickwrites.