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Colby-Sawyer Launches Food Recovery Initiative

Colby-Sawyer College and its dining services provider, Sodexo, have partnered to create the first certified chapter of Sodexo's national Food Recovery Network in the state of New Hampshire. The Feed the Freezer program recovers leftover food from Colby-Sawyer's dining hall to donate to three local food pantries. More than 270 individual meals have been donated in the first two months of the program.

Predicting just how much food will be consumed during any given meal at the college can be difficult, and when estimates and reality don't line up, good food remains. Instead of sending it to a local farmer or landfill, Feed the Freezer volunteers divide the food into individual meals, then freeze and deliver the meals to food pantries in New London, Danbury and Newport. Nationwide, it is estimated that 33 percent of food is wasted and at least $165 billion worth of food – enough to feed 25 million people – is lost every year.

Colby-Sawyer has a history of successful can drives; last fall the student group Enactus and Sodexo collected 657 pounds of food in a drive before Thanksgiving. Sodexo employee Sandra Brownell, the driving force behind Feed the Freezer, saw an opportunity for Colby-Sawyer to do even more for its neighbors. “We think that everyone is doing okay because we are doing okay,” said Brownell, “but you cannot see hunger in your neighbor.

General Manager of Sodexo Dining Services at Colby-Sawyer Mike Heffernan believes that food donations should be top quality. “Sometimes people donate cans of food that have been sitting in the back of a cupboard forever,” said Heffernan. “What we donate is good food. We ensure this by training our staff to evaluate the quality of any dish and follow all food safety requirements.”

In addition to rescuing surplus food, Feed the Freezer volunteers have placed collection boxes across campus. Every month, the food donations will be distributed to the pantries and the list of needed items will be updated. As a third prong of the Feed the Freezer program, students, faculty and staff will have the option to make a monetary donation right from their SmartCard starting in mid-March.

All this is a big effort to confront a big problem. In 2012, according to Feeding America, 46.5 million Americans were in poverty and 49 million lived in food insecure households (17 million of those were children). While New Hampshire has a relatively low unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, the state experiences a food insecurity rate of 9.9 percent.

“Hunger is too big of an issue to be a bureaucratic one,” Brownell said. “Part of being a community member is helping your neighbors, and Feed the Freezer does just that. All the money, all the food, and all the volunteers' efforts go straight to our neighbors in need.”

The Feed the Freezer program is designed to be an ongoing resource to New London and the surrounding area. Sodexo operates year-round at Colby-Sawyer, so food will be recovered every week. Brownell and Heffernan hope to donate 35 meals each week as a Certified Food Recovery Chapter. “I want Feed the Freezer to be an ongoing community outreach program that will stick around for years to come,” said Brownell. “I also hope that Colby-Sawyer inspires other schools in New Hampshire to launch a food recovery initiative.”

–Jacqueline Susmann '14
Jacqueline Susmann is a Creative Writing major at Colby-Sawyer College and an intern for College Communications.

This release has been edited to reflect new information regarding the certification 4/16/14.*

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Learn more about the college's vibrant teaching and learning community at

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000