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Nick Murphy '13 Is Working to Expand Food Rescue Programs

Nick Murphy, class of 2013

The Pomona College Food Rescue program is a student-led initiative that takes prepared but unserved food from Frary and Frank Dining Halls and delivers it to a local homeless shelter. Nick Murphy ’13, who has directed the program for the last two years, is now part of a team--the Food Recovery Network--working to expand these types of food recovery programs to colleges and universities across the country. Their twin goals are to eliminate waste and feed people.

Last year, 16 volunteers with Pomona’s Food Rescue program collected 526 large trays and 712 half trays of prepared food from Frary and Frank Dining Halls and delivered them to Inland Valley Hope Partners family shelter. Murphy was able to arrange for the Salvation Army to pickup prepared food leftovers from lunch service and has consulted with students at Claremont McKenna and Scripps as they started their own joint food rescue program two years ago.

So far, the Food Recovery Network consists of Pomona College, Brown University, UC Berkeley and the University of Maryland. Together, the four chapters estimate that they donated approximately 50,000 meals last year.

“Food rescue is a program that doesn’t require a ton of money or a ton of training,” explains Murphy. “It’s very simple and has a very large impact.” With volunteers donating their time, the only costs to the programs are the trays, which cost $1.50 and hold enough for 15 meals, and gas to make the deliveries.

The four student groups were inspired to create the Food Recovery Network when their research showed that 75% of college campuses had no food recovery program. This summer, they are reaching out to other campuses, filing to become a 503c3 organization, developing a board of directors and national leadership team, and applying for grants.

The Food Recovery Network is currently competing for a Banking on Youth Grant from the Consumer Bankers Association, which Murphy explains would give the group of the ability to provide small grants to individual campuses to help them get started.  You can vote for them at

“Voting for us is not a gamble,” says Murphy. “It’s a sure thing that programs will start. Because of the simplicity of the program, it’s not overly ambitious. We know what works, and we’re confident we will be able to build up the team pretty significantly.”

“It's the waste of food that really motivates me,” says Murphy. “It seems ridiculous that we live in one of the most prosperous nations on earth and still have a huge amount of hunger. There’s so much food that’s out there but gets thrown out… The best thing about the food that we deliver is that it’s from the dining halls, and the majority of the time it’s healthy food. When you have all of this fresh food, it’s so much better to get it to people who need it than toss it.”

Murphy is a molecular biology major from Berkeley. Pomona’s Food Rescue program was started by Tammy Zhu ’10 in 2008. It is now operated through the Pomona College Draper Center for Community Partnerships.