Before the current pandemic crisis, Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) prepared almost 23,000 meals on a typical day.
When Harvard’s campus began de-densifying earlier this spring, HUDS was left with a significant amount of food on hand. Over the ensuing weeks, it was placed in freezers or re-deployed to open operations to feed the nearly 450 graduate and undergraduate students who remained on campus.
Increasingly, HUDS has been offering pre-prepared foods to further allow for reduced staffing and social distancing, leaving on-hand ingredients unused. As part of its ongoing effort to reduce food waste, the HUDS team began to assemble the stockpiles of loaves of breads and baked goods, rice, beans, grains, pastas, cereals, peanut and seed butters, dried fruits and nuts, sliced deli meats and cheeses, dairy products, dry goods like flour, corn meal, oats and sugar, and even condiments.
HUDS has since emptied several freezers and storerooms of items that could be re-deployed locally in Cambridge’s nonprofit grocery program, Food for Free.
“Food for Free, our regular food donation partner, has made an amazing pivot during this unprecedented time,” said David Davidson, managing director of HUDS. “They have quickly turned to supporting meals and groceries for children and families in our Cambridge community who are at risk. It is our responsibility to make sure this good, healthy food we have on hand does not go to waste and instead goes to support that effort.”
Similarly, Harvard recently sent a truck full of grains, breads, groceries, proteins and more to the Chelsea Collaborative, a social services agency that is experiencing unprecedented demand in one of Massachusetts’ hardest-hit communities.
“Food should never be wasted,” Davidson noted, “but now most especially. I’m inspired by, and grateful for, the critical work these agencies are doing to provide immediate relief in Cambridge and throughout our local communities.”
For more on the Food for Free programs during COVID-19, or to volunteer for their efforts, please visit https://foodforfree.org/covid-19-relief-delivery-program/.