A homeless man from Seattle enjoying food donated through Food Recovery Certified

David Ryder

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Ben Simon founded The Food Recovery Network to deliver food from college cafeterias to the hungry before it's thrown out. The nonprofit's new certification program aims to recognize and reward restaurants, caterers and dining halls across the country that donate their leftovers.

In 2011 Ben Simon launched The Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland. The goal was simple: intercept as much leftover food from his college campus’s cafeteria as possible and get it to those in need. Within months, the network grew to include dozens of chapters at colleges across the country. More than 320,000 pounds of recovered food later, Simon is launching his most ambitious initiative to date — Food Recovery Certified.

Any food provider in the country can apply to be Food Recovery Certified as long as they donate their leftovers at least once a month. Cara Mayo, Food Recovery Certified’s program manager, works with local nonprofits to verify the donations. She says she hopes becoming certified will become a national trend. “Consumers want there businesses to be associated with an environmental or social cause. They want the effects of it to be felt in their home and in their community.”

Editors’ note: Since the original publication of this story, Ben Simon, founder of The Food Recovery Network, has become a NationSwell Council member.

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Sign up to receive the tools you need too approach local businesses and restaurants asking them to start recovering their food and eliminate waste. Simply enter your email address to join the Food Recovery Certified Street Team! The Food Recovery Network will be in touch with ways to get involved.

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Jacob Templin is the director of video for NationSwell.