This week, residence hall garbage rooms will fill as Binghamton University students finish their finals, clean out their dorms and head home for the semester. Students looking to de-stress this weekend after cleaning out the mini-fridge might want to bring some of their leftover food to Binghamton Food Rescue’s Summer Launch Party Fundraiser & Food Drive.
Binghamton Food Rescue is an entirely volunteer-based organization that aims to minimize food waste in the Binghamton area. Both student and local volunteers bring leftover food from farmers markets, supermarkets and restaurants to the North of Main (NoMa) Community Empowerment Center at 85 Walnut St. for distribution.
Eliana Epstein, a volunteer at Binghamton Food Rescue and a first-year graduate student studying sustainable communities, said one goal of the organization is to foster a welcoming environment for people who use the distribution center.
“We try to make it so it’s an experience, so when you come through the doors of 85 Walnut [St.] we’ll have coffee and we’re always making soup or pasta or tacos or doing something fun,” she said. “We try to make it more of a community space.”
Saturday’s fundraising event will start after the group conducts its normal weekend distribution. There will be a barbecue, live music, lawn games, hula hoops, informational programming from organizations such as Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments (VINES) and Cornell Cooperative Extension, an auction and more.
Epstein said while there are some BU students involved in Binghamton Food Rescue, the board and volunteer network are mostly made up of community members, and the organization hopes to see students getting more involved by dropping off their end-of-semester food waste.
“We have a really hard time accessing students because a lot of them aren’t from here, and they might learn about food justice, but don’t really care about it,” she said. “It’s hard to engage students, but if there’s something they can do, like dropping off their food, that might help us branch out.”
Epstein also stressed that busy students should email Binghamton Food Rescue to have their extra food picked up if they can’t make it to the event.
According to Epstein, monetary proceeds from the fundraiser will hopefully contribute to larger projects within the organization, such as expansion of food distribution programs into the American Civic Association on Front Street.
“A lot of the people who are part of the American Civic Association are immigrants, so they don’t always qualify for food stamps yet, but they also sometimes can’t afford groceries, so they’re in a blind spot in the system,” she said. “We’re really excited to help with that.”
Epstein said she hopes the event draws the community together regardless of whether attendees are financially able to donate.
“Instead of a fundraiser just for the people that we’re collecting funds from, we want it to be a community event,” she said. “We want people who donate food, people who are receiving food, people who are our friends, our family people, people who live in the area or anyone to be able to come.”
The Summer Launch Party Fundraiser & Food Drive will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at 85 Walnut St. Donations of either food or money are encouraged.