Blog Post

Wicked Local reports that the United States Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized Wellesley’s 3R Working Group with a 2018 Environmental Merit Award for its food rescue initiative. One of 28 recipients to receive the award, Wellesley’s program diverts edible, surplus food from disposal and donates it to people in need.

The Wellesley food rescue initiative launched in September, 2017 to reduce the amount of food waste that local institutions send for disposal. Thus far, program participants including staff and food service providers from Wellesley Public Schools, Babson College, Bentley University, Olin College of Engineering, and Wellesley College have collected almost 10,000 pounds of food for donation, serving as an excellent example of how local institutions can collaborate to make a positive impact in the community.

Program participants donate leftover food to the Cambridge nonprofit Food for Free, which repackages items into single-serve meals and distributes them to food insecure individuals in the community. The initiative has seen enormous success, providing almost 20,000 meals in its first year. This includes donations directly to the local MassBay Community College, where an estimated 52% of students are food insecure. The Wellesley food rescue initiative is now actively recruiting new participants, and other communities have also started to replicate the model to reduce their own food waste.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts provides no-cost technical assistance to help colleges and universities start or expand recycling and food waste diversion programs. For more information on setting up a food donation program at your business or institution, view the RecyclingWorks Food Donation Guidance, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525, or email us at