The Ram Food Recovery program relaunched Tuesday, January 19. The program is an initiative under the Rams Against Hunger umbrella, which aims to “support students, faculty, and staff experiencing food insecurity”.
The program embraces the three pillars of sustainability (economic, social, and environmental justice) by supporting those in the campus community facing resource barriers that limit their access to quality food, often underrepresented and lower income students and employees. The environmental impact of food waste is minimized by alerting CSU members of surplus food to pick-up rather than throwing it out or composting it.
COVID-19 has presented a unique challenge to many of CSU’s programs that support students, staff, and faculty, especially programs like Ram Food Recovery. Prior to the pandemic, CSU subscribers would receive text alerts for any leftover food from events catered in Housing & Dining Services to be picked up at a certain time and location. Because most events have been virtual since Spring 2020, there have been no catered events.
Rams Against Hunger, along with Housing & Dining, submitted a proposal to the CSU Sustainability Fund to relaunch the program in a COVID-aware format this semester. Housing & Dining is producing and packaging meals for students in quarantine housing each day. The proposal to produce extra quarantine meals for Ram Food Recovery capitalized on existing resources and was selected for funding. The funds will allow the program to provide 25 to-go meals Tuesday through Friday each week from now until spring break, when classes will go virtual. A student intern to manage the program, coordinate distribution, and provide assessment was funded separately by the Teaching and Learning Continuity Work Group.
“When catered events were paused last spring, it was hard to put the Ram Food Recovery program on hold because we knew it made an impact,” said Tonie Miyamoto, who helped launch the program two years ago. “Thanks to creative thinking from Housing & Dining, coordination from Rams Against Hunger, and support from the President’s Sustainability Commission, it’s great to see it return this semester.”
Data from the RealCollege 2019 CSU Institutional Report demonstrates that an alarming 32% of CSU’s students experience food insecurity. Sadly, this number is in line with national averages, and the COVID 19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. Since the onset of the pandemic, Rams Hunger has doubled down on the food security programing they offer. The RAH Food Pantry serves an average of 325 Rams each week; over 350 students have received meal swipes as a part of the RAH Meal Swipe Program; and a collaboration with Case Management has assisted over 200 Rams in navigating SNAP Federal Aid Benefits. The Ram Food Recovery is a sustainability focused and important addition to this multi-pronged approach, which acknowledges the broad scope of the issue and seeks to normalize this difficult conversation for the individuals affected, as well as for the institution as a whole.
The CSU Sustainability Fund is a new initiative introduced in Fall 2020 by the President’s Sustainability Commission to support new sustainability initiatives across the university. The Ram Food Recovery program was one of several projects awarded this fiscal year.
To learn more about the Ram Food Recovery Program and Rams Against Hunger, visit https://ramfoodrecovery.colostate.edu and https://ramsagainsthunger.colostate.edu.
To learn more about the CSU Sustainability Fund, visit https://green.colostate.edu/csu-sustainability-fund/.