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TCNJ Food Recovery Network started in late 2019 with the goal of limiting food waste and fighting food insecurity by collecting food from local grocery stores and donating it to soup kitchens and food pantries in the community.
Every week, small teams from a base of more than 70 students volunteer to drive to partnering grocery stores in the Ewing and Pennington area to collect baked goods, non-perishables, and even paper products that would otherwise end up in the dumpster.
“Dented cans, ripped bags of toilet paper … anything that’s not pretty on the shelf,” says Chris Infosino ’23, co-founder and president of TCNJ FRN. “As long as it’s still fine to eat and use, we’ll get it and take it to our partners.”
The group currently distributes the recovered food to local organizations such as Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Helping Hands, New Beginnings, and HomeFront who then get it to those in the community who need it most. They’ll also supply items to The Shop @ TCNJ, a food pantry that opened its doors in February 2019 with the goal of fighting food insecurity on campus and in the local community.
Infosino says that a typical recovery is around 150 pounds of food, but they have had recoveries of upwards of 500 pounds. From fall 2020 through summer 2022, TCNJ FRN has recovered 17,800 pounds of food.
Andy Gramajo-Renoj ’23 says being a part of this group is an extension of his “volunteering spirit.”
“I grew up in Trenton and saw firsthand people struggling to pay bills and put food on the table,” he says. “This is something that’s been innately with me since I was younger.”
Learn more about the TCNJ Food Recovery Network by following them on Instagram: www.instagram.com/tcnjfrn.
— Emily W. Dodd ’03