As the holidays approach, we can’t help but think about the less fortunate. For those who serve in the University of Arkansas Razorback Food Recovery Program, this is a year round mission.
On average colleges throw away 22 millions pounds of extra food every year. With that wastefulness in mind, the Food Recovery Program formed to recover this extra, wholesome food that would otherwise be thrown away. Razorback Food Recovery (RFR) volunteers work with Chartwells Dining Service employees to recover the surplus food on a daily basis.
The process begins when dining hall employees take pre-packaged or bakery items to a designated refrigerator for RFR to use. Each morning volunteers go to that location to weigh and log the food and from there it is delivered to be donated either to Full Circle Campus Pantry or another community partner. Christian Bourdo, RFR Chair, has the main responsibility to oversee and lead their leadership board. “We use AppSheet mostly for data collection,” states Christian. “This data is very important to us because we track food waste data on campus and then use it to help food producers limit over-production and track the success of our program. This also tracks our food from the source to where it is eventually served.”
Christian decided to use AppSheet in August 2015 because their data storage was recorded on Google Sheets and AppSheet didn’t require him to build a new database. Before AppSheet, the data collection was done by Google Forms.
“Switching to the app has made data collection extremely easier. The data is collected by volunteers handling the food, and we now have over 75 total student volunteers in the program,” explains Christian. “The forms on the app are much simpler and quicker to use than the previous forms we used, plus all of the forms can be kept in one platform rather than having a list of many different Google form links.”
Not only does the mobile app maker aid in food recovery and distribution, but it additionally organizes the complex duty of organizing the teams of volunteers. “We can more easily communicate with volunteers thanks to the app. Volunteers recover food between lunch and dinner. Volunteers separate the large pans of surplus food into individual, freezable meals that can then be given out to community partner agencies.”
The University of Arkansas’ program continues to grow strong. Not only was it one of the first schools in the SEC to start a food recovery operation, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized the university for its leadership, collaboration with businesses, and effectiveness in food recovery.