BU’s Student Food Rescue Works to Reduce Local Food Insecurity
Long-running program is more important than ever, as pandemic increases need for assistance
Since its founding in 1988, BU’s Student Food Rescue (SFR) has been working to reduce food insecurity and food waste throughout Greater Boston. Each week, teams pick up between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds of donated food from local bakeries, cafés, and grocery stores and deliver it to community partners such as homeless shelters, senior centers, and food pantries. One of the largest student-run salvage programs in the country, SFR distributes more than 100,000 pounds of food annually.
The BU Community Service Center student organization’s mission has become more critical than ever. According to Feeding America, the largest US domestic hunger-relief organization, 35.2 million Americans were food-insecure before COVID-19 struck. Today, nine months into the pandemic, an estimated 50 million Americans, including 10.7 million children, are at risk of experiencing food insecurity.
“The truth is, we produce enough food to make high-quality food accessible and affordable to everyone,” says Saahil Adusumilli (Sargent’22), one of two SFR program coordinators. “About 40 percent of the US food supply is wasted every year—that’s roughly 80 billion pounds.”
The goal of Student Food Rescue isn’t just to help put food in the hands of those who need it, but to encourage reflection on food insecurity, systemic racism, economic inequality, and what a society with true food justice could look like. The program gives volunteers an opportunity to experience Boston outside of the BU bubble and connect with inspiring community partners who are committed to serving the community.
“Mutual aid work isn’t going to solve this issue, but I think it brings us one step closer,” says Michael Gomez (Sargent’22), the other SFR program coordinator. “Hopefully, through doing this work, we find inspiration to advocate for more systemic changes. We need to be out there every day doing what we can.”
The pandemic has forced SFR to institute some new safety protocols this semester, including reducing the number of passengers in the delivery van, rigorous sanitation of the vans, and contactless food delivery. This year’s team has a total of 55 volunteers, an increase of about 15 over previous years.