Sara Rupp '17 & Chaz Woxland '17

Co-Presidents, Food Recovery Network

Sara Alura Rupp
Major: Literature-Writing; Minors: Earth Science and Third World Studies 

How did you become aware of food waste on campus? 

We've all seen it—unsold pizzas at the end of Pine's dinner rush, half-finished dessert trays after a catered campus event. I never questioned what happened to the uneaten food until I became the one responsible for throwing it out. In my two years as a prep cook for UC San Diego Catering, I threw out hundreds of pounds of food that my coworkers and I spent hours preparing. 

While I was working at Catering, I happened to be volunteering with Intervarsity's Homeless Ministry. Tuesday nights they share sandwiches and conversation in the underpasses of downtown San Diego. There was such a disconnect between passing out homemade sandwiches to grateful people and then throwing out gourmet dishes the next day. That was my impetus for searching for a solution and finding one in food recovery.  

Why is food waste a problem? 

Food waste is problematic for three broad reasons. One is economical; if you waste food, you waste money. The average American family of four throws out $1,600 worth of food a year. When we waste food, we also waste the resources that were used to produce it—human labor, production and transportation costs. 

The second is environmental. If we consumed and produced only what we needed, we would save ecosystems, water, trees and land from being unnecessarily exploited. Food waste in landfills is also a leading producer of methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than CO2.     

Finally, food waste is occurring in a world where famine, chronic malnutrition and food insecurity are daily realities for millions. I believe there is something fundamentally wrong with wasting food in the face of such deprivation. 

What advice do you have for students who want to tackle a sustainability or environmental problem? 

For students who want to solve a social justice or environmental issue (and they're all a bit of both), I'd want them to know that they don't need to be an expert in order to challenge the status quo. The first step to changing anything is not averting your attention, asking critical questions, pointing the problem out to others and finally, consciously choosing not to be part of the problem. If you can stop perpetuating the problem, then you are much farther along than most of society. It doesn't take an expert to do any of those things. 

Our members have no background in administration or food systems. We've managed with little to no funding.  FRN was built and is sustained by passionate, dedicated people. Period. That's all you need. 

Chaz Woxland
B.S. Chemistry/Biochemistry, Major; B.A. Sociology, Culture & Communication, Major 

Why do you believe an organization like the Food Recovery Network (FRN) is important to have on our campus?

FRN is the largest student movement against food waste in America. Having an organization on campus that has collectively recovered over 1.7 million pounds of food nationwide shows that change is achievable when a network of people work together. UC San Diego’s Food Recovery Network is on this campus to inspire that change on the local level. 

Tell us about a fulfilling experience you've had while serving the public through FRN.

My fulfillment has been through looking back on this club and all that our team has gone through. From recovering 6.3 pounds at our first recovery last spring, we now collect several hundred each week. Although the development this network has made is truly astonishing, I know there is still so much work to do. That is why this organization has been so fulfilling; the possibilities for students to help our surrounding community are endless. 

Where does your passion lie as a student and how does FRN fulfill it? 

My central belief and passions lie in providing intangible service to others. Whether that’s through facilitating the development of bio-diesel projects on campus or inspiring restaurants to lower waste production to reduce their overhead costs, FRN has helped me pursue these passions in a way that I would have never imagined otherwise.  

Sara Rupp '17 & Chaz Woxland '17