Combatting Food Insecurity and Reducing Waste Through the Food Champion Program

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Published September 18, 2023
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The Montclarion
Kevin Atahualpa, a freshman majoring in business administration, outside of the Student Center, holding food that he just purchased from Panda Express. Karsten Englander | The Montclarion

Launched this semester, the new Food Champion Program was developed with the aim of reducing food waste and also helping students who may face food insecurity.

All current Montclair State University students can join the program.

On the Food Champion Program page on the university website, there is a link to the program’s Canvas page. Clicking the link and joining the Canvas page will opt students into receiving alerts whenever leftover food is available.

After the announcement is sent, there is a thirty-minute window to go and pick up the food. It will detail where on campus the food is located and other important details.

For example, if there is an on-campus event where catering was provided and there is any leftover food, it is available for students who may need it. It is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The food handed out on those days does not need to be purchased.

Jessica Rivera, a sophomore educational foundations for elementary teachers major, said the program will help students under difficult circumstances.

Rivera thinks the Food Champion Program will be beneficial for students. Karsten Englander | The Montclarion

Rivera thinks the Food Champion Program will be beneficial for students. Karsten Englander | The Montclarion

“I think it’s a good program overall,” Rivera said. “There are certain students who are not able to [go] out [and eat] because they’re so stressed and engrossed in their work right now. So they will miss time [to get] food or they just don’t have the [finances] to just get the food. A lot of times if you work or go to school every day, you can’t buy food every day. So I think it’s a very beneficial program. I think in the end it will work for those certain students that are in need [of] it.”

Sahr Gbondo, a graduate cybersecurity student, approves of the program and hopes it reaches students in need.

A graduate cybersecurity major, Gbondo thinks the Food Champion Program was a good idea. Karsten Englander | The Montclarion

A graduate cybersecurity major, Gbondo thinks the Food Champion Program is a good idea. Karsten Englander | The Montclarion

“It’s a good idea,” Gbondo said. “I love the initiative. As for me, I don’t have a problem with food [insecurity], but there are students out there who [are] in need of food.”

Angela Castillo, a sophomore psychology major, agrees with the mission of the Food Champion Program.

Castillo

Castillo likes that the Food Champion Program will reduce food waste. Karsten Englander | The Montclarion

“Instead of the food going to waste or being thrown out, it could definitely help those students who have a chance to stop by and it could even save them money too, if it’s a cost thing,” Castillo said. “I don’t see how it could be a bad idea.”

Dawn Soufleris, Vice President of Student Development and Campus Life, said through the Food Champion Program, students in need will have another resource to succeed at Montclair State.

“The SDCL division is laser-focused on supporting a student environment that promotes student success,” Soufleris said. “When students have food insecurity, that success is far harder to achieve. With the Food Champion Program, we will not only reduce the food waste we see on campus, but also allow all students who are in need of food resources to have access to food throughout the week. I encourage all students who face food concerns to please register for this important and, what we hope will be, a life-changing program at Montclair [State].”

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