Food Recovery Network

Country of implementation

United States of America

Type of the practice

Educational programme

Initiator of the practice

A group of college students

Type of education

Non-formal education

Age of participants


How many participants max can participate


Education form

Primarily offline or in-person

Short description

The Food Recovery Network is a non-profit organization based in the United States that aims to reduce food waste and food insecurity on college and university campuses. The organization is primarily student-led and works with campus dining services to recover surplus food that would otherwise go to waste, and donates it to local hunger-fighting organizations. The Food Recovery Network also provides education and resources to help students and communities reduce food waste and promote sustainability. To remain transparent and inclusive, FRN hosts public learning sessions twice per year, Roundtable Talks as they call them, where they invite the entire network to advise on annual goals and share the data on progress toward those goals.   The project covers 190 campuses in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Recovered 12.1 million pounds, which translates into 10.1 million donated meals.¬† More than 5353 Metric Tonnes of CO2 emissions have been prevented through the implementation of the project to date. The Food Recovery Network (FRN) has collaborated with The Farmlink Project (FLP) since 2020 to reduce food waste on US farms. Together, they have recovered and donated 3.1 million pounds of surplus food to feed communities facing food insecurity and hunger. This year, the Food Recovery Network (FRN) is conducting research Power Hours, which are one-hour zoom calls aimed at assisting The Farmlink Project (FLP) in connecting with farms located in regions where surplus food is prevalent and food insecurity rates are highest. FRN actively celebrates Earth Day and Stop Food Waste Day by encouraging other people to do the same.


  • Impact: The Food Recovery Network has a significant impact on reducing food waste and food insecurity. Since its founding in 2011, the organization has recovered millions of pounds of surplus food and donated it to hunger-fighting organizations, diverting it from landfills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The organization also raises awareness about food waste and sustainability, empowering students to make positive changes in their communities.
  • Replicability: The Food Recovery Network’s model is highly replicable and can be adapted to different college and university campuses. The organization provides comprehensive resources and support to help students start and operate local chapters, including training, toolkits, and access to a network of experienced leaders. The Food Recovery Network’s success has inspired the development of similar organizations around the world, including in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Challenges in implementation

Logistics: Collecting and distributing surplus food requires coordination between multiple parties, including donors, transportation providers, and recipient organizations. Ensuring that food is collected and distributed efficiently and safely can be challenging.
  • Food safety: Recovered food must be handled and stored properly to ensure that it is safe for consumption. This can require specialized knowledge and training, and the implementation of food safety protocols.
  • Legal issues: There are legal considerations associated with food recovery, such as liability concerns, food safety regulations, and tax implications. These issues can vary by location and can be complex to navigate.
  • Resource constraints: Implementing a food recovery program can require significant resources, including staff time, transportation, storage facilities, and equipment. Securing the necessary resources can be a challenge, particularly for organizations with limited budgets.
  • Cultural barriers: Encouraging people to donate surplus food can be difficult if they are not familiar with the concept of food recovery or are hesitant to donate food that they perceive as being of low quality. Overcoming these cultural barriers can require education and outreach efforts.