Program redistributes ARA food to CASPAR
By Judy Kim
In an effort to salvage unused food from dining halls for redistribution, the MIT Hunger Action Group has created the Food Salvage Program, through which otherwise discarded food is donated to the Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism Rehabilitation (CASPAR) shelter.
The group, under the direction of Mursaleena Islam '92 and Geetha G. Krishnan '93, is currently working with the MIT Faculty Club. The program, which
began April 9, has gained much support and success, according to those involved.
Common foods collected include side dishes such as rice, vegetables and bread rolls. The group also seeks any extra meals, such as pizza or sandwiches, for redistribution. Fruits and other perishables are also collected as donations for CASPAR. After the collection, the food is transported to CASPAR twice a week.
Faculty Club workers package the food in their own reusable pans for the Hunger Action
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Group to deliver. On the first night, the group collected approximately 150 pounds of food. In another occasion, over 200 pounds of food from the Faculty Club buffet was gathered. Islam said the group has received "loads of cooperation" from the Faculty Club as well as MIT Food Services.
Very few problems have arisen since the program began and these, according to Parker, involve only "logistical coordination" such as student involvement and transportation.
Islam said that success of the program relies heavily on student participation. She said that expansion of the Food Salvage Program "depends on how many students are willing to volunteer."
Transportation is another concern which is being addressed. Currently, the group relies on personal cars to transport the food to CASPAR. The possibility of leasing a van has been considered, but no definite plans have been set. The group is working to identify any possible long-term difficulties now in order to ensure total success of the program.
Islam said she hopes to expand the program this summer and in following semesters to include other dining halls. The Faculty Club was chosen for its size and manageability but eventually, the group hopes to work with the managers of Walker Memorial Dining Hall, Lobdell Court and the dormitory dining halls.
Karen Parker, marketing manager of MIT Food Services, confirmed ARA's active role in this effort. Parker described the effort as a joint program between the Hunger Action Group and ARA, but emphasized that the program originated from the student-run organization.
The students "came up with the idea, researched other similar programs, and then recommended the idea" to ARA, Parker said. Boston University and Harvard University have similar programs, and through these precedents the group outlined the Food Salvage Program at MIT.
Islam maintains optimism for the program. There are "so many hungry people . . . that need the food," and MIT can "definitely provide" some of that food, she said.
Islam believes that expanding the program is "not impossible" and anticipates its growth.