Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 88.14
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date Dec. 6, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Colorado State University
IN-24: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Tonie Miyamoto
Director of Communications and Sustainability
Housing and Dining Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Ram Food Recovery Program

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

One in ten students at CSU experience food insecurity. For several years, CSU has had a strong Rams Against Hunger program that provides 75 meal swipes per semester in the dining centers for students experiencing food insecurity, a monthly mobile food bank for students, faculty, and staff, assistance with SNAP benefits, and pocket pantries across campus. The dining centers and Mountain Campus also donate an average of 20,000 pounds of food to the Food Bank each year. One of the things these programs was not addressing was food leftover from catered events, which is often high-value food like fresh fruits and veggies, proteins, and balanced meals.

Because the food at catered events has been served (i.e. out on a line with half of the lasagna taken), it was not eligible for acceptance at the Food Bank and it was against campus policy to let students or event attendees take the food with them because of food safety and liability concerns as outlined in campus policy. In talking with many of our peers, similar challenges exist across the country with donating served food. Students in ASCSU, the CSU student government, and Eco Leaders, the campus housing peer-to-peer educators, advocated for change and a working group was formed with representatives from SLiCE, the office that manages Rams Against Hunger; Environmental Health, who manages safety policies on campus; Dining Services, who has a catering unit; ASCSU and Eco Leader representatives; and Housing & Dining Services Sustainability.

The working group was determined to find a way but couldn’t identify any case studies or peers with similar programs. After taking a deep dive, the group decided that the best approach was to change campus policy into guidelines and best practices document with a waiver that would make it possible to create a food recovery program without the university assuming an unacceptable amount of liability. After working with campus approvers for eight months, the Ram Food Recovery program was piloted as the newest addition to Rams Against Hunger. After a successful pilot in spring 2019, it is now a permanent program on campus. The documentation created can be viewed at https://ramfoodrecovery.colostate.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2019/01/CSU-Food-Donation-Recovery-Guidelines-2019.pdf.

Basics of the program:
• When Catering has food leftover, they log into the web-based system to record what is leftover, document food temperatures, and send a text alert to registered members of the campus community to let them know what food available, where it can be picked up, and the pick-up time.
• To ensure food safety, food temperatures are documented on the back-end of the website, pick-ups are limited to 30 minutes, and Catering staff stays to serve the food.
• In order to be added to the text alert system, participants must agree to follow food safety guidelines and digitally sign a waiver releasing the University from liability.
• Participants bring their own, clean container for pick-up and are welcome to take as much food as they need (we have been very impressed that participants are very mindful of how many other people are there).
• Registration is open to any member of the campus community experiencing food insecurity including students and employees.
• The program has a secondary goal to reduce food waste and it has significantly reduced the volume of food waste going to the landfill from Catering. Records show that most events hand out all leftovers.
• Recruitment for Ram Food Recovery is done through existing lists for Rams Against Hunger and assistance from the Financial Aid Office, who sends messages to Pell-grant eligible students once per semester. Word of mouth has also been an effective marketing channel.

The program was piloted in Spring 2019 and based on that success went live for the 2019 summer conference season.
Results for the 2019 summer conference season:
• 52 food recovery opportunities were sent out between the start of conference season on May 21 through the end on August 13 (for comparison we had 18 during our three-month pilot program in the spring).
• Detailed participation was tracked for 19 of those events and the average participation was 23 people per event with a high of 47 at one pick-up.
• We sent a message out at the end of the spring semester to let subscribers know how to cancel the texts if they were off-campus for the summer (we had 824 subscribers at end of spring semester 2019 and dropped to 680 after this message). Over the course of the summer, we had 124 new sign-ups.
• As of August 13, there were 804 people registered on the list and we expect that number to soar well above 1,000 when we invite participants who were off-campus for the summer to re-register and after we do some targeted outreach to new students on campus.
• After opening, we will transition back to our academic year program for the fall semester. Since this is our first fall semester, we will track data and trends carefully.

Multiple institutions have contacted us about our Ram Food Recovery program and we have been happy to share resources and lessons learned. Our hope is that the days of served food not being viable for food recovery will soon be a thing of the past.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Campus Engagement
Food & Dining
Diversity & Affordability

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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