ASU students rescue produce and feed their community

January 31, 2019

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, ASU students gathered for a service day, one of many planned for the spring semester through Changemaker Central @ASU.

Changemaker Central partners with Borderlands Produce Rescue to distribute rescued produce on ASU’s Polytechnic, Tempe and West campuses. Rescued produce are fruits and vegetables that grocery stores didn’t buy from distributors. This excess, fresh produce would normally be thrown away, but Borderlands rescues it and distributes it at community events each week. The events provide healthy, affordable food to ASU students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community while diverting food waste from the landfill.

During Produce Rescue events, residents can get 70 pounds of produce for just $12. Students can get 35 pounds of produce for $6.

According to Changemaker coordinator Kendon Jung, the team needs about 30 student volunteers to have a successful event.

ASU students at the Vista del Sol golden dome hand out food with Borderlands Produce Rescue

Changemaker Central ASU students at the Vista del Sol golden dome hand out food with Borderlands Produce Rescue on Jan. 19.

“There are a variety of different roles that students play,” Jung said. “We have registration. We have cash handling. We have helpers who are helping our customers get the amount of produce that they’re supposed to get.”

Last year, across all three locations, the team distributed 333,000 pounds of food, Jung said. In January 2019, Changemaker students helped connect 1,452 people to fresh produce, diverted more than 20,000 pounds of food from the landfill and engaged 37 volunteers.

Saturday, Jan. 19, saw volunteers participate in the MLK Day of Service. More information on Changemaker days of service can be found here, including Red, White and Serve on Feb. 16 and Devils in Disguise on April 20. Upcoming Borderlands Produce Rescue dates include Feb. 16, Mar. 16, Apr. 20 and May 19.

Haley Rivard-Lentz, a junior at ASU studying sustainability and public service, said she first got involved with the Jan. 19 event through the Next Generation Service Corps food waste mission team, a leadership program at ASU. She volunteered at the Tempe event at the Vista del Sol golden dome.

“We’re broken up into mission teams that are centered around a social mission,” Rivard-Lentz said. “My social mission is about food insecurity, and my NGSC mission team partnered with Borderlands, and we kind of just developed a leadership partnership so that there would be consistent volunteers here every month.”

Hannah Fry, a freshman studying global health, is also part of the Next Generation Service Corps and volunteered in Tempe. Her mission team focuses on hunger and nutrition. She said she enjoys volunteering because she gets to interact with the people she is helping.

She said, “[You can see] that you’re making a positive difference in the community.”

Fry said that it’s important for students to have these volunteer opportunities.

“[It’s also important] just to show student involvement and increase sustainability at ASU and everywhere in general,” she said. “Volunteering is a great way to understand the community around you.”

According to Jung, in fiscal year 2018, the ASU Borderlands partnership supplemented more than 154,000 meals and connected more than 18,000 people to fresh produce.

Students can sign up to volunteer for upcoming events through Changemaker Central @ASU.