Every evening after dinner in the six Claremont dining halls, trays of food remain untouched by students. Until last spring, this food was thrown out as dishes were washed, chairs pushed in and the dining hall prepared for another raucous day of belly-filling. Tammy Zhu (PO ’10) identified this source of extra food and was determined to create a connection between the excess and the hungry people of the Inland Empire. Through a Strauss grant, Zhu started the Food Rescue program at Pomona and worked to expand it to the other Claremont Colleges.
Today, all 5C’s participate in the program, either contributing leftovers or, in the case of Pitzer, donating fruit. Interestingly, Pitzer does not produce leftovers as do the other dining halls, but they have generously agreed to donate a box of fruit every week to help augment the meals provided at the shelter. Since Pomona started its program first, it operates separately, donating to a different shelter than do the other colleges.
Around 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, student volunteers from Mudd, CMC and Scripps bring heaping trays of whatever delectable food we recently feasted on over to Scripps where a student volunteer drives the left-overs to Pomona Valley Christian Feeding Ministry (PVCFM) in Pomona. There, the student is greeted by a shelter volunteer who opens up the kitchen and helps them store the food for the next day’s meal. The volunteer grabs the reusable containers from the previous day and brings them back to campus where the dining halls graciously wash them and fill them up the next day for the cycle to continue.
Food Rescue transports an average of ten large food trays everyday, helping to feed the 60-100 people that rely on PVCFM for daily meals. Food Rescue has helped to greatly reduce the financial burden on the shelter by donating food, as well as minimizing the prep time that fell on church volunteers to prepare a meal for so many mouths. Food Rescue also ensures that the meals at PVCFM are healthy, adding meat and vegetables to the diets of many who would otherwise go without these staples.
Food Rescue has served as an easy and effective way for 5C students to get involved in the community outside of campus by fighting hunger in the Inland Empire. The program also promotes sustainability at the 5C’s by significantly reducing dining hall waste.