Where is your leftover dining hall food going?

Apr 03, 2014 No Comments by

Containers full of garlic breadsticks and chicken are enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but even if these thoughts are on the minds of the student volunteers who are packaging them, they don’t show it.

Each of these students are either active members or first-timers of SWIFT, an organization at Ithaca College that seeks to Stop Wasting Ithaca’s Food Today. Participants meet at 4 p.m. every Friday in the kitchen of the Towers Dining Hall to repackage leftover food into individual allotments that they deliver in plastic tupperware to the American Red Cross headquarters in Ithaca, SWIFT president Megan Strouse said. “We hope to expand in the future to other dining halls and areas but that is not our focus at the moment,” she said. “We’re just trying to build a solid group of volunteers.” How much food they get to package and deliver varies, vice president Peter Davis said. “Some days we’ll get 15 meals out of it, others 35,” he said. “Today was a good day.”

That day was March 28, which produced 16 containers of chicken and rice, 24 containers of bread sticks, eight containers of corn, and 10 containers of ground beef. These main meal items are in addition to the five containers of salad and contributions of deli sandwiches from In the Bag, the Towers’ bagged lunch station. Although a student driver currently delivers this food solely to the Red Cross, Strouse said SWIFT hopes to be able to expand to other food pantries. “Loaves and fishes is looking into accepting our donations,” she said. “That would be really cool to spread out our donations.”

She said it isn’t difficult to gather volunteers each week, especially since there is not always a lot of work to do. “Sometimes we can get out of there in about 10 minutes,” she said. Strouse said she participates because she would want someone else to do the same for her if she were to end up in a situation without easy access to food. For most college students, she said, if the job search does not work out, anyone could find themselves unable to pay for consistent meals. “You just never know the kind of situation you might end up in,” she said.

In that sense, she said, it’s about paying back to those who might include oneself one day. Junior Adam Monzella said he takes interest in SWIFT because of his passion for food justice, a topic he wants to explore more with his environmental studies major at the college. “It’s an easy way to make a difference in something I care about,” he said.

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