Texas Christian University has been one of the best college football teams in the nation in recent years on the field, but it’s what they’ve been doing off the field that has gotten some local attention. Food waste has been a big problem in the United States with enough thrown out each year to fill an entire football stadium. One stadium where that won’t be a problem is Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, home of those TCU Horned Frogs.
After every home game, around half a ton of food is unused, and most stadiums would simply throw the food away. At TCU, however, they have what’s called the TCU Food Recovery Network, a student-run organization that aims to end hunger both on campus and locally, coordinating to deliver the leftover food to charities.
One of the people that gets excited to see TCU play a home game is Robert Clethan, the Food Services Director at the Union Gospel Mission homeless shelter in Fort Worth, where more than 800 pounds of food are delivered on Mondays after home games. “Everything that gets brought here gets used,” he said. “Everything.”
Sodexo is the company that provides the food for TCU athletic events, and they’ve coordinated with the TCU Food Recovery Network to make it all possible. Not only do football games produce a big haul for Union Gospel Mission, but leftover food from campus dining halls is also brought over twice per week.
It’s not just hot dog buns and ketchup packets being brought over, either, but a lot of the fine Texas cuisine that you’d come to expect. Cornbread, brisket, chicken wings, potato salad and more all make it possible for those living in homeless shelters to get a tasty and warm meal. The Mission is able to feed 300 people three times per day for an entire week, all based on the leftovers from football games.
Megan McCracken is the President of the TCU Food Recovery Network, and she was able to help research what could do the most good, and it turned out that the football games were a huge score for the group. “It’s a simple concept,” she said. “We’re collecting what we have too much of and giving it to those who don’t have enough…It’s great to know that the Fort Worth community is benefiting.”
She added that “Being a young organization, our main focus has definitely been food recoveries. But we hope as we continue to grow, we can do more stuff on campus and reach out to more community organizations….If anyone has the opportunity to go to Union Gospel Mission or anywhere in the community, they should. It is incredible to see the spirit and how happy others are even given their current circumstances.”
TCU Food Recovery Network Service Director and CCO Caroline Cheatwood said that “Every time we come they are so overwhelmed. They Are always so thankful and appreciative.” Grace Dieb of the network added that “We were able to serve families and children. It is just awesome to see TCU giving back to the community.”
As for Clethan, he’s hoping that the attention that the donations have created will help lead to further assistance for his organization and others in need. “People really want to help out, but they don’t know how to help out sometimes,” he said. “They just need to know there’s a place like this that can use things like that.”