Basic Needs
Together We Will End Hunger, Malnourishment, and Homelessness

Food Recovery


Food Recovery at UC Berkeley

Various departments and students groups have been working on food waste reduction and food recovery for years including Cal Dining, the Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC), the Student Parent Association for Recruitment and Retention (SPARR), and the Berkeley Student Food Collective.

In Fall of 2017, UC Berkeley’s Basic Needs Committee convened a campus Food Recovery Coalition to bring together these cross-campus partners and develop a comprehensive strategy to recover food at the scale that it is wasted specifically for food insecure students. The vision for this work is to sustain, coordinate and amplify existing efforts to reduce food waste and create structures for safely transporting and repurposing edible food waste specifically for food insecure students.

In Fall of 2017, the Berkeley Environmental Law Clinic in collaboration with Environmental Health and Safety developed UC Berkeley Food Recovery Guidelines and in spring of 2018 we are piloting several strategies for food recovery using these guidelines. These efforts are student led, coordinated and executed. Contact student leaders below and/or Meg Prier ( facilitator of the Food Recovery Coalition for more information and how to get involved!

  • Cal Dining Food Waste Reduction, Awareness and Recovery

    • Sam Lubow,

  • SERC Vermi-Composting pilot for Cal Dining pre-consumer waste

    • Sharon Daraphonhdeth,

  • Prepared Food Recovery from events to student lounges and/or campus food pantry

    • Jeffrey Chiu,

  • Gleaning and Second Harvest Recovery

    • Justin Loew,

  • Grocery and Warehouse Produce Recovery

    • Ibrahim Ramoul Menendez,

  • Central Food Recovery Campus Kitchen and Retail Café

    • Jeff Noven,

  • Basic Needs Processing Kitchen

    • Meg Prier,

Core members of the Food Recovery Coalition: Cal Dining, SPARR, BSFC, Swipe Out Hunger, ASUC, Berkeley Student Cooperatives (BSC), Berkeley Greek System, Environmental Health & Safety, Environmental Law Clinic, Zero Waste, Be Well at Work, SERC, Cook N Serve, University Health Services.



It is said that food insecurity on college campuses is a growing issue and one that we here at Berkeley have tried to address through many different angles. We have worked together to build a more sustainable campus food system through institutional policy changes, innovative student organizations, diverse fellowship opportunities, and research opportunities, as well as local grassroots organizing.

Food Recovery on the UC Berkeley campus takes shape in many forms. One of these ways is known as "gleaning". Gleaning is a traditional practice in communities where excess or leftover produce is collected from commercial, public, and privately owned farms, fruit trees, or gardens based on an agreed partnership between the gleaner and the owner.

We acknowledge that not every student obtains the means to support themselves for the basic needs required for everyday survival, food, shelter, safety and financial stability. We believe the security of these basic necessities are crucial for a healthy and successful career at UC Berkeley and beyond. The UC Berkeley Food Harvesters team is dedicated to recovering surplus foods from local farms, gardens, and Berkeley residents, in an effort to reduce food waste while feeding students ready-to-eat meals on a consistent basis. We are proud to say that through this service, we have the potential to provide thousands of pounds of fresh produce to the UCB Food Pantry, located in Stiles Hall, for students at no cost to them at all.

Over the past 4 months, I have worked as the Gleaning Coordinator with the Food Recovery Coalition under the Basic Needs Security Committee. I have worked on developing a framework for organizing teams of volunteers that are tasked with gleaning the Berkeley community.

I have also lead the development of an online platform that will keep track of registered fruit trees, availability of volunteers, lbs of fruit recovered, and upcoming pick opportunities through GIS mapping tools. It has been a learning process that includes speed bumps now and again, but ultimately a great opportunity to educate myself on the needs of our students, the ongoing campus efforts to address food security, and lessons in the work of organizing and building a campus-wide coalition. One of the most important lessons I've learned is that it really does "take a village", for things to work. We almost never achieve our goals "on our own", and it would be foolish to think we have all the answers to the questions holding us back from reaching them. I have appreciated the trust and independence I have been given with this project, as it has pushed me to seek help, ask questions, and take risks that are essential for my personal and professional growth. I have appreciated the opportunity to work so closely with the Berkeley community and other folks who are so passionate about building a more inclusive and equitable food system.