Food Recycling Program

Food Recycling Program Today: 

recycled food containers

  • In February 2019, the Food Recycling Program collected 759 pounds of food from South Village Dining Hall, Prospector and Crown Commons and soon to be City Barbeque.
  • The Food Recycling Program brings fresh, ready-made meals to the pantry with a variety of vegetarian and  non-vegetarian options for students in need.
  • All food is packaged into sustainable, compostable and microwavable clamshell containers.
  • Any extra food is taken the Center of Hope Women’s Shelter.  

History of the program

Appalled by the amount of leftover food that was being thrown away in the dining halls at UNC Charlotte, first-year honors student Glenn Hutchinson established the Food Recycling Program in 1991.

recycled food

Honors students transported the food to local homeless shelters in their own vehicles until the summer of 1994 when they raised enough money to purchase a van for food transport.  It took quite a while to get a vehicle, but after many letters and phone calls to different individuals and corporations, Nations Bank (now Bank of America) donated one of their vans.

Then in the fall of 1995, Glenn and a few other students wrote a grant to the North Carolina Office of Waste Reduction. They were awarded $5,300 to purchase a refrigeration unit for their van. Individual donations also help pay for gas and other expenses connected to the van.

With the refrigerated van and the hard work of dedicated student volunteers (especially students from the University Honors Program, then directed by Al Maisto and Connie Rothwell), taking leftover food from UNC Charlotte to the soup kitchen became a permanent part of UNC Charlotte.

refrigerated food

This almost came to halt after the Food Recycling Van experienced engine failure in 2007. Graciously, Chancellor Philip L. Dubois provided funding to keep this program running by purchasing a new van and refrigeration unit and branding the vehicle for the Food Recycling Program.

For many years, the Food Recycling Program was housed in the University Honors Program, but in 2008, it was moved to the Dean of Students Office within the Division of Student Affairs where it remained until 2018.   

Then in 2018, the management of the Food Recycling Program was moved to Leadership & Community Engagement during a Student Affairs realignment.

While the management of the program has moved several times and experienced setbacks along the way, UNC Charlotte remains committed to using food that would otherwise be thrown away and repackaging it to serve those in need in the greater Charlotte community.   

Directed by Sean Langley and coordinated by his Hunger and Homeless Outreach Intern Autumn Robertson, this program continues to collect cooked food from University dining halls and transport it to the Jamil Niner Student Pantry every Monday.