UW-Madison Program aims to reduce student food insecurity

Published: Dec. 5, 2019 at 6:18 PM CST
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A new UW-Madison student project aims to reduce food insecurity on campus by starting The Food Recovery Pre-package program.

"We package somewhere between 300-500 pounds of food each week which would have all been thrown in the garbage," Brianna DeNamur, Food Recovery Program Co-director said.

Instead, it's being re-packaged in single-serve containers to give leftover food a new purpose to help students in need.

"It's a variety since its surplus food from the dining hall it depends on what's leftover," DeNamur said.

An average of 250 meals per week are scooped into containers after a night in the freezer. The meals are sent to "The Crossing," which is a Christian campus ministry and student organization. UW-Madison students who are experiencing food insecurity have access to the microwaveable meals.

"Unfortunately at universities you still have to pay quite a hefty fee for meals and a lot of places aren't affordable," Sophia Merry, student volunteer said.

Not only is it fighting food insecurity, but it's also reducing food waste.

"Honestly incredible. I think this is the best solution to these two problems,” DeNamur said.

Students said this program helps tremendously because food isn't just for the appetite because it feeds the mind too.

"When you want to learn something you need to be well fed. If we're trying to learn something in college it's important we have access to food," DeNamur said.

Last summer, American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation awarded a $27,000 grant for a one-year program food repackaging program to help get the project on its feet.

The program has run out of meals every week since it started a couple months ago.

"It really does show that there is a need on campus. That the concern and issues of food insecurity is definitely a problem on campus. Especially two year and four year campuses. So we're really hoping to make a dent on that here," Agnes Sherman, UW-Madison Food Safety Manager said.

The program director said they hope to expand the pantry to multiple locations on campus in the future and they're hopeful other universities will adopt the same method to fight hunger on campus.

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