Blog Post

Two Massachusetts higher education institutions recently shared the efforts they are taking to divert food from disposal and to combat hunger in surrounding communities.

Wellesley College is joining the list of Massachusetts schools, colleges, and universities participating in the Food for Free donation program. Food for Free is a Cambridge-based non-profit that rescues excess fresh food and redistributes it to emergency food programs and individuals in need.

The Town of Wellesley’s 3R Working Group initiated the relationship with Food for Free in December 2016. This working group, made up of individuals from Wellesley’s Department of Public Works, Natural Resources Commission, and Sustainable Energy Committee, was established to promote sustainable materials management across the Wellesley community.

Food for Free notes that many partner organizations are able to save money by adjusting purchasing and production levels after realizing how much surplus food they generate on a daily basis. Additionally, Food for Free representatives explain that the Massachusetts Commercial Organics Waste Ban has contributed to an increased awareness of food waste at local businesses and institutions.

 At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, students who are part of the Food Recovery Network volunteer to pick up excess food from the dining halls after dinner and transport it to one of three local shelters. The student volunteers stress that it is surprisingly quick and easy to collect and deliver large quantities of food through this program.

The student-driven UMass Amherst Chapter of the Food Recovery Network recovered 954 pounds of prepared food last semester alone and approximately 4,500 pounds since it began in 2014. The group is continually looking for additional opportunities to prevent waste on campus such as utilizing compostable trays and to-go containers at dining locations. Nationally, the Food Recovery Network has 230 student-run chapters across 44 states and the District of Columbia.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts has worked with many colleges & universities in the state on recycling and food recovery programs including UMass Amherst (see the written and video case study). To speak to a recycling and food waste diversion expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at