The Food Recovery Network is one of several sustainability efforts on campus.

By Hayley Ross ’17

Making sure they don’t throw out the extra food on their plate is not enough for Bailey Armstrong ’16 and Olivia Carroll ’17. As executive members of Butler’s Food Recovery Network, their goal is bigger: eliminating food waste across campus.

“I look for opportunities to decrease waste wherever I go,” Armstrong said. “There are such easy ways to do it. If I am talking to a younger friend, I am always promoting the Food Recovery Network.”

Lauren Wathen, Olivia Carroll, and Bailey Armstrong are working to reduce food waste on campus

Lauren Wathen, Olivia Carroll, and Bailey Armstrong are working to reduce food waste on campus

Armstrong started the club in fall 2014 when her sister’s friend, who is one of the founders of the national program, told her to apply to create a chapter on Butler’s campus. After a couple of weekly calls with the program’s headquarters, she was able to make it official.

She said she went to Butler’s alternative block party ready to find others as passionate as she is.

“That’s where I met Olivia,” Armstrong said. “I also met Emily Guglielmo, who is now on our executive team as well.”

Guglielmo had transferred from the University of Michigan, which already had a Food Recovery Network chapter. Soon after, they met Lauren Wathen, current president, who joined them in making a four-person leadership team ready to conquer food sustainability and food waste prevention.

The Food Recovery Network’s efforts are just one part of the sustainability efforts on campus. Dining Services composts about 800 pounds of pre-consumer food waste—like the tops of peppers and apple cores—each week. This began in April 2015, thanks to an SGA grant.

In January 2015 they made their first recovery—taking all unused, untouched food that can’t be resold and donating it to the Julian Center, a center for women who have been domestically abused.

“We started at Hinkle after a basketball game,” Armstrong said. “We asked Dining Services, ‘If you think we are doing a good job at the games, can we do them in the dining halls?’ And now we have them twice a week at Atherton and at all home men’s basketball games.”

They have collected about 1,000 pounds of food in the past year.

“We view the amount of food we have recovered as an accomplishment, but also as a sign that there’s a lot more work to do to diminish food waste,” Armstrong said.

Each semester the network members meet with Dining Services’ head chef and the team that orders the food served at Atherton to discuss how much is being wasted.

“We just want to make them aware,” Carroll said. “They have been incredibly responsive.”

There are now 10 members of their executive team, although there are many more working these recoveries.

“The cool thing is that we have executive members that are really passionate, but also volunteers who can come for an hour or so,” Carroll said. “It’s great to have that balance that keeps the sustainability going.”

Other student organizations also pair with them weekly to do food recoveries. They said their goal is to make Butler students more aware.

“Awareness changes a society,” Carroll said. “Although we may not do this as a profession, Food Recovery has taught me a lot about the immense amount of food wasted in this country and the hunger in this country. We tend to focus abroad, but we have a huge problem in our own country.”

For more information on the organization and how to volunteer, visit the Butler Food Recovery Network Facebook page or contact Lauren Wathen at lwathen@butler.edu.

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