Harvard University is addressing a crisis: how do we get food for the hungry? How can we best make sure people’s get what they need, while doing it in a healthy and sustainable way? These questions of alleviating hunger are at the front of Harvard news. In this article, we investigate how they are answering.
Harvard University student volunteers work tirelessly in the dining hall kitchen at night. They form an assembly line, putting away and packaging surplus food from the day. Afterwards, all packages will go to households that experience chronic hunger; which is upwards of 200,000 in the area.
So, what’s going on? The dining hall works with the nonprofit Food for Free. Food for Free is a donation program to eliminate hunger. Since its inception, the program has donated an average of 40,000 bulk donations each year. And around 2,600 pounds of food is donated every month from Harvard.
What students are doing
Harvard students are stepping it up. They are helping the initiative by making frozen, microwavable meals to give to hungry families. The food is high quality and high quantity.
At the end of every day, all Harvard dining halls have enough surplus for 75 individual meals. The donated meals include barbecued chicken, curried tofu, vegetable quiche, with sides of rice, potatoes, and steamed veggies or sautéed greens. Once packed, the meals each contain at least one protein, grain, or vegetable.
“Harvard’s students come from all over the world,” said Crista Martin, the director of HUDS. “The Family Meals program allows them to participate in a very hands-on way with understanding how Harvard connects to the local community.”
Does it stop when the school year has died down? No way. During the summer, 1,100 family meals were made.
And is this sustainable?
“Making sure the leftovers we have are put to their best possible use, is a great example of how we’re turning Harvard’s holistic Sustainability Plan into action,” said Brandon Geller, program manager of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Green Program. “Meeting the complex challenges of being truly sustainable means that we need to find these double wins that will help us achieve our overall vision of enhancing the well-being of both people and the planet.”
The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce recognized the efforts of HUDS and Food for Free and granted them the 2017 Visionary Award.
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