by Camille McDaniel
Started in the Spring of 1988, Student Food Rescue (SFR) is one of the largest student-run food salvage programs in the country. Over 5,000 pounds of food per week are collected from local farmers markets, bakeries, restaurants, and grocery stores and dropped off at over 20 recipient sites in the Greater Boston Area. I sat down with this year’s SFR program managers, Daniel Brown and Hannah Sabitoni, to learn more about the program, how they got involved and the importance of memes.
Let’s just start with introductions. Where are you from, and what do you study?
H: I’m from Providence, RI; actually Johnston, RI. I am an upcoming junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying environmental analysis and policy and economics.
D: I’m from Glastonbury, CT; and I’m a sophomore studying economics in CAS.
What’s your favorite food to salvage?
H: Oh, that fresh produce! I love when Whole Foods gives us cups of the chopped fruit.
D: Yea, fresh produce.
How is SFR operated? If you were pitching the program, how would you describe it?
D: So, we have weekly food runs that our volunteers can sign up for. Basically, a food run is just them driving out with a couple other students in the van and picking up food from a restaurant, bakery, or some kind of supermarket that would throw away that food normally. Then, they bring that food to a homeless shelter, food pantry, or someone who needs it. And it’s not just food runs. You can go to the Greater Boston Food Bank and help pack vans of food and then help out at the Brookline Food Pantry.
H: And Community Servings…We have volunteer opportunities as well as physical food runs.
So, you already said these runs are weekly. How much commitment are they?
D: Each run is about two hours –usually like an hour and a half to two hours. It’s just once a week. You can sign up for as many as you’d like, but it’s only a one-time-per-week commitment.
H: But it is a commitment. You do have to go every week. So in that sense, it’s long term.
Is it per semester or per year?
D: Per semester. We have sign-ups each semester, so it will fit your schedule.
How did you get involved with the program?
D: I did Food Justice for my FYSOP focus area, RIP to the old focus areas, and my staff leader was the SFR program manager last year; so he shared it with me. I did it with a few friends and had a great time, so I wanted to contribute in another way.
H: I’ve always volunteered doing some sort of food justice stuff. I used to volunteer at soup kitchens back home. I didn’t actually get involved at BU until I applied to be a program manager and went on a little nerd rant about food justice. I’ve always been down with the cause.
Both of you already touched upon this question a little, but why did you want to become a program manager for SFR?
H: I didn’t go in with the specific application for SFR. It just ended up being the right choice for me. I was just guided in that direction based on my own beliefs and passions.
D: A little different for me…I applied for SFR because I did it last year. But I just wanted to work in the CSC.
Why would you recommend this program to BU students?
D: It’s a simple way to get involved. And it’s not just getting involved at BU. You’re able to explore the city, go to different neighborhoods you might not go to, and you get to meet a lot of different people. I’m still in contact with people from my food run last year, so it’s a great way to meet new people –especially if you’re a freshman who doesn’t know much about Boston or if you don’t know too many people.
H: It’s a very helpful service, and it does a lot. It’s not something too grueling or arduous to do, and it’s also a great way to see Boston in a new light. You can whip Pearl if you get lucky. (Translation: You can drive our nicer van named Pearl)
Is this program open to grad students as well?
D: It’s for registered BU students; so as long as you have an active BU ID, you’re able to do it
H: So, yes.
Do you have a favorite run? If so, why is that one your favorite?
H: Oh that’s a tough one.
D: That’s a very good question…Well, I did the Greater Boston Food Bank run last semester and this summer. That one’s definitely tough because there’s a lot of food, but it’s a really good run because it’s not just one specific type of food. There’s a large variety. We have dairy, produce, frozen, meat –stuff like that.
H: I don’t know. Probably the Saturday run that goes to the Haley House because I love them and all that they do; and they’re just cool people. Also, I like the one that goes to Grant Manor because everyone’s so excited. It’s a Whole Foods pickup, so you have a lot of produce and a lot of good stuff. You get to Grant Manor and back up into that tight spot; and then you see a group of really excited people. It’s a very visual experience for us because you can see the people who are getting the food.
What’s your favorite thing about SFR?
D: Kind of what I said before. It’s an easy way to get involved, but it’s also a really important thing to be involved with. I think being able to see Boston while making a difference here is really important. Since it is the largest student food salvaging program in the country, it’s cool to feel like you’re part of something that makes such a big difference in the city.
H: I think connecting more with Boston and getting out into different communities that you wouldn’t otherwise explore on your own is really awesome. And being able to meet different people in those communities and feel like you’re doing something good; but like I said, it’s not an arduous task. You have options. You can do different things that are all very important.
I know this from experience. Y’all have some dank memes. What is your inspiration behind the SFR memes?
D: Like who inspires us?
Who inspires you, or why do you do them? Do they come to you easily? They’re always so relatable.
D: Yea, we try to make our memes relatable so that our volunteers feel like…
H: They’re part of something.
D: They’re part of a community of people working together, so we use memes to bridge the gap between what SFR is and the volunteers.
H: We try to make them relatable so people feel like they’re part of something that’s bigger and that they have a community. Then they’re like, “Oh yea I also get this. This joke makes sense to me.” Also that volunteer retention. You got that dank meme stash… they’re gonna stay.
Perfect food run playlist?
H: Grow Food by Urban Youth on repeat.
D: I like a variety of my mixes, so I don’t always know what’s coming next. I usally end up driving, so whoever is in the passenger seat usually has a good playlist. Sometimes, if you’re on the morning run you’ll listen to some morning radio shows.
H: I go on a run on Thursdays at 3:30, and that one’s always fun because we always play The Reason by Hoobastank at some point. We play an angsty teen playlist, and that’s always a good time. That always gets us hyped.
So, give me 5 songs, between the two of you, that should go on an SFR playlist. We already have Grow Food.
H: The Reason by Hoobastank
D: When we played Green Light on the last run, remember that?
Yes! John Legend, Green light. Such a banger.
D: All of Calvin Harris’ Funk Wav album.
H: All of Ariana Grande.
D: Her entire discography! Each van comes with an aux cord, so if you’re looking for that…
H: We have the aux!
D: Also, I want to add that if you’re not comfortable driving the van, you don’t have to. The program is open to drivers and non-drivers.
H: We know it’s a daunting thing and kind of scary, but it’s not as bad as you think. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. We won’t pressure you.