From looking to meet new people to searching for experience to add to your resume, joining a club at USF offers many benefits. Not only do clubs establish a network of like-minded individuals, but they are also rooted in a cause that encourages their members to grow. Whether these clubs be academic, professional, cultural, social, or service-based, all offer opportunities for development and learning. As a fourth year Environmental Science student here at USF, I am proud to be actively involved in two clubs on campus: the Environmental Engineering and Science Club (EESC) and Food Recovery Network (FRN). Both clubs offer students opportunities to get involved, however while EESC is an academic and professional club tailored to Environmental Science and Engineering students, FRN is a service club open to students across disciplines who are interested in giving back to the community.

With a focus on food waste, the USF chapter of FRN actively recovers food across San Francisco that would otherwise be thrown away and redistributes it to community members experiencing issues such as food insecurity and houselessness. In the United States, with more than one hundred billion pounds of food being thrown away every year and approximately forty percent of our nation’s food supply going to waste, it is hard to understand why we waste so much food yet so many individuals—roughly forty-nine million Americans—are food insecure and at risk of going hungry. FRN understands this and was founded with the mission to reduce food waste by providing meals to those in need.

People serving food in to-go boxes.

FRN and Night Ministry members volunteering at the 16th and Mission BART stop.

The club at USF is only one chapter of the larger organization, but as a whole, the Food Recovery Network is “the largest student-led movement fighting against food waste and working to end hunger” and has recovered nearly five billion pounds of food, which is equivalent to providing over 4.1 million meals to those in need. Last year, the USF chapter of FRN, led by students, recovered and donated approximately 4,000 pounds of food both internally and externally. What this means is that our donation partners as well as those that receive food donations consist of both USF members and community partners. Currently, we have two donations per week, Thursday donations in the Mission and Friday donations to the USF Food Pantry. On Thursday evenings, student volunteers pick up trays of hot food from Bon Appetit in the USF dining hall and drive this down to the 16th and Mission BART stop. Here, we partner with the Night Ministry, a faith based community group that provides an open cathedral service followed by a community meal. During the school year, FRN is excited to provide and serve hot meals during this service and talk with our community.

On Friday mornings, we partner with SF Wholesale Produce Market to recover fresh produce that could not be sold for reasons such as overstock or blemishes. In the past, we have brought this produce to Walden House, a facility helping homeless adolescents and adults with substance use disorder issues, as well as USF’s Food Pantry. As a club, we recognize that supporting college students is crucial. Roughly 34% to 59% of college students meet the criteria of being food insecure and struggle with finding meals. Understanding this, FRN aims to support USF students by providing free healthy produce. This upcoming year, we hope to expand on our student services and continue to provide students with free and accessible food.

In addition to expanding student services this school year, we hope to just expand in general! We are looking for passionate and involved students to join our volunteer list and executive board this year who are interested in growing their network and being an important part of their community. We send out a weekly sign up sheet for volunteers to join donations, and you can choose to attend as few or as many donations as you would like. For executive board members, we are looking for students who are or can become USF driver certified and are interested in active community outreach. If interested, feel free to follow us on Instagram, @usfcafrn, or contact me at

As a student who has been with FRN since my sophomore year, I have found this club to be so fulfilling and rewarding. Not only does FRN offer experience, opportunities to meet new people, and a way to serve your community, but you truly feel that your efforts are making a difference. I am extremely proud of this club and how it has helped me grow. I definitely feel that I am a part of a much bigger community full of support and resources and I strongly encourage you to join us on a donation day to see if you are interested.